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County taxes set for another large increase

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Carroll County leaders are set to approve a second double-digit property tax increase in two years to pay for a new jail and radio communications system, and some are relieved the tax increase wasn’t bigger.

“I was dreading the worst,” Supervisor Gene Meiners said at a meeting early this month. “I looked at it like, ‘What’d we forget?’ I’m surprised.”

The county is set to levy about $1.1 million more property taxes in the coming fiscal year than it did in the current year, which ends in June. That represents a 13-percent increase.

The total increase since voters approved a bond referendum to pay for the new jail would be about $2.7 million, or 39 percent.

“I’m surprised it hasn’t gone up more,” Supervisor Neil Bock said.

A public hearing on the proposed property tax levy is set for Monday at 10 a.m. at the supervisor’s meeting room at the county courthouse.

The tax increases follow a decade of tax decreases, in which the supervisors often spent more money than they received and depleted their cash reserves by millions of dollars. Bock has referred to that period as a “tax holiday” that gave the county the second-lowest levy rates in the state.

The recent increases will help pay for the jail — which is expected to cost more than $10 million — and for the $4.9 million radio communications system, which is used by law-enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics and others.

The cost to operate the county jail also will increase because it will be much larger and operate differently than the current one.

The new property tax levy rates that are set for public discussion on Monday include a 5-percent increase for rural residents and a 15-percent increase for city residents.

For someone who owns a $125,000 home in town, that equals roughly a $17 annual increase.

Editor's note: The tax dollar amount increase for a $125,000 home was corrected. It was originally calculated without accounting for the state rollback.

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