Transylvania County Tax Administration closed the 2016 collection year with a high county tax collection rate of 99.82% for 2016 county tax collections. In prior years, the tax office has exceeded all other counties in North Carolina for their collection rate and the percentage presented to commissioners is hoped to capture that title again this year.
Commissioners point out this achievement is a testament to the work in the tax office, but also to tax payers in Transylvania County. “This is you (citizens) paying your tax obligations. Sometimes it is not easy, but staff works out payment arrangements when circumstances arise, so thanks to the citizens,” Commissioner Jason Chappell said.
Transylvania County Tax Administrator Jessica McCall presented the 2016 report to commissioners at their July 24 meeting, receiving praise from the board for the work of her staff while getting the greenlight to issue tax bills for 2017.
“The tax office staff put in extra effort to get our tax collection rate above the state average by making phone calls and working with our citizens on ways to make sure their taxes are paid. Those few extra percentages on the collection rate mean a tax savings to our citizens at over a penny in revenue that is needed to operate services,” Commissioner Mike Hawkins said.
McCall shared with the board that tax bills will be mailed on Tuesday, July 25 to kick off collections for 2017. This year citizens will find some new information in their bill. Commissioners directed County Manager Jaime Laughter to include Revenue and Expenditure Charts in the tax bill mailings to help answer the frequently asked question of what tax dollars go to in the county.
“Citizens will find two charts. (See Below) One shows the revenues the county receives. The Ad Valorem category covers property tax collections showing that these collections will make up 56.9% of the revenue received by the county in the budget year that began on July 1. There is also a chart that shows expenditures by function so that citizens can see how the county budget utilizes the revenue received from property tax and other collections as well,” Laughter said.
The charts help give citizens a sense of how tax dollars are spent, but they are only reflective of the portion of the bill for county taxes. The portion for fire districts, city or town purposes is not accounted for on the charts. For additional information on what the charts mean, citizens can go to the county website at www.transylvaniacounty.org.
Revenue Charts Definitions
Ad Valorem Taxes: Taxes collected locally on property including land, buildings, vehicles and business personal property. This is the only revenue that local boards may control to gain additional revenue.
Sales Tax: Taxes collected for sales by businesses that are then sent to the state for redistribution. These funds come back to the local community under varying formulas and some of them have restrictions on what areas they must be used on for the portion received by the county.
Medicaid Hold Harmless, Intergovernmental, etc: These are funds received from the state or federal government. Some funds are restricted to be used for certain services only while others may not be restricted.
Permits, Fees and Sales and Service: These are fees received from those who use certain services. This includes fees associated with services such as permits to receive inspections when building a home, parks and recreation program participation fees, EMS transports, etc. These fees help to cover the cost of the service by charging those using it, but the fees do not pay in full for these services and departments.
Fund Balance and Reserves: These are funds saved by the county either for emergency use or for specific expenditures. Examples include the county saving over several years to make a large purchase like the voting equipment required under state law.
Investments: Funds held in reserve are able to be invested in certain ways regulated by the state to earn interest.
Expenditure Chart Definitions
Education: Funds spent for annual current expenses requested by the public school system for education, capital funding requested annually and funding to operate the Blue Ridge Community College Transylvania County Campus. This includes debt service for education buildings the county pays.
Public Safety: Funds spent for the Sheriff’s office, jail, emergency management, EMS, Fire Marshal’s Office, Animal Services and Communications.
Culture and Recreation: Library and recreation programs and facilities.
Human Services: Social Services, Child Development, Health Department and Transportation
Economic and Physical Development: Planning and Community Development, Building Inspections, Cooperative Extension, Economic Development and Soil and Water Conservation
General Government: Administration, Elections, Finance, Human Resources, Tax Office, Register of Deeds, Legal Services, Maintenance, Housekeeping, Court Facilities, Project Management and IT
Transfers: Funds to build reserves for upcoming projects and obligations
Debt Service: Payments on debt service. Currently the county is paying on loans for the public safety/jail facility construction and for the elections center renovation.