Smith County Commissioners Discuss Tax Increase

Commissioners say Smith County residents could be looking at their first tax hike in five years. "This year may be one of those years that we as a court will have to look at a tax increase," said Smith County Precinct 4 Commissioner Joann Hampton.

Commissioner Hampton said the increase is necessary because "costs keep going up" and the county needs the funds for certain projects.

"The biggest challenge is the balance, the balance between being responsible to the tax payers and we all are, and the balance to providing our employees with the tools they need to do their jobs," said Smith County Precinct 2 Commissioner David Stein.

The estimated revenues for the 2007 fiscal year are expected to be $52,283,202.  Expenses are estimated right now at more than $56,004,455.

The biggest budget request increase so far has come from the Road and Bridge Department. They say they'll need an additional $3.5 million for next year's budget.  Also, jail inmate transfers are expected to cost the county $2 million.

Until the final numbers are in, there is no answer on how much the tax increase could be. Another budget meeting is scheduled for two weeks from today.

Oralia Ortega, Reporting.