The average property owner in Crawford County can expect to see his or her annual county real estate bill go up another $42 in 2006 under a tentative budget expected to be adopted today by Crawford County commissioners.

Commissioners are expected to increase the millage rate by 1.5 mills — to 16 mills — the first tax hike in two years.

Commissioners raised taxes by one mill in 2003 for the 2004 county budget.

While this year’s hike will be a 10 percent increase, over the past four years the total county’s millage increase has been three mills — from 13.5 for 2002 to 16 for 2006 — or 18.5 percent over a five-year period, meaning an average annual increase of 6.25 percent.

The average property in Crawford County is assessed at $28,000, according to Crawford County Chief Assessor Joseph Galbo III.

Although commissioners plan to adopt the tentative budget, it is not yet balanced, said Crawford County Commissioners Morris Waid late Wednes-day afternoon.

He said it is about two mills out of balance, or approximately $2 million as one mill of tax brings revenue of about $1 million.

However, he said commissioners will continue to work to bring the tax hike down to no more than 1.5 mills.

Crawford County Commissioner Morris Waid said late Wednesday the budget for 2006 will reflect increases in salaries for union and non-union personnel for both 2005 and 2006. He said this year’s budget didn’t include any raises since it was a year of union negotiations.

Since several unions recently settled the contracts, the employees will receive retroactive pay, which will come out of the 2006 budget.

Commissioners have postponed granting raises for non-union personnel in 2005 as well so those costs will be added.

Health insurance premiums rose by 4 percent for 2006, Waid said. He was uncertain what other increased expenses were in the budget, noting it is still being prepared.

Once the tentative budget is adopted, the county must have it on public display for 20 days before its final adoption.

Waid said, however, commissioners can change it, but cannot increase it by more than 10 percent after the tentative adoption.

Commissioners meet this morning at 9:30 at the courthouse.



Jane Smith can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at jsmith@meadvilletribune.com

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