Commissioner are expected to approve the budget and rate following the hearing.
Figures presented in two earlier hearings predicted a 5.99 percent tax rate increase and a general fund showing a $799,000 deficit.
Although the increase may seem minimal — about three-tenths of 1 percent on next year’s tax bills — legislation requires the county to hold three public hearings if the property tax (or millage) rate increases.
Sandra Self, Catoosa County tax commissioner, said the numbers may seem a little dreary at first glance, but that's "really not the case at all."
"Bottom line," Self said, "when all the calculations are in, when the budgets are set and the taxes are levied, most property owners will actually see a slight decrease in property taxes. We can thank people for buying locally."
Self said after the tornado in April 2011, there was a great deal of fear and speculation by officials, as well as the public regarding the long-term financial effects of the disaster. Many businesses and homes were lost and the lack of that tax income weighed heavily on projections for the county, according to Self.
"Last year at this time, everybody was singing the blues because of the tornado," Self said, "but they were missing the big picture. I explained how I (like so many others) had just spent a chunk of money at Lowes and Home Depot and other local building supply places that we normally wouldn't have spent. My house was completely destroyed. I had to replace everything in my house, and I was buying locally. Even those who came to help bought everything lo-cally. I made sure the people rebuilding my house bought locally, so yes, we have taxes, but as bad as last year was, we're seeing some relief on the property taxes due to all the sales tax that came in."
The county budget is hovering around the $28 million mark, but the concentration, according to financial officer Carl Henson, is to continue to whittle away at the $779,000 discrepancy between revenue and expenses. Before de-partment budget meetings and consistent re-evaluations of revenue information and projections, the amount was at $1.4 million.
The 2012-13 budget report cites the deficit as being a result of a "reduction in revenue of $434,000 and an in-crease in expenditures of $345,000." Fines and forfeitures, decreased interest income and inmate housing were listed as lagging revenue areas. Cost increases in gasoline and diesel, group insurance and various professional services were projected to be top revenue drains in the future.
Board of Commissioners chairman Keith Greene said he and the commissioners were still working to improve the budget on a daily basis for the fiscal year, which begins Oct 1.
"There's really not a big change in the rate for the upcoming year," Greene said, "and, naturally, we're going to continue to do our best to see that funds are adequately appropriated. It (the budget) is a work in progress. It's an ongoing thing."
What is a millage rate?
A property tax rate of one mill represents $1 paid per $1,000 of assessed property value. Property is generally assessed at 40 percent of its market value. For example, a house with a market value of $100,000 would be taxed on $40,000. So for each mill imposed in the property tax (millage) rate, the home owner would pay $40. Example: If the property tax rate is 17 mills and a house has a market value of $100,000, the homeowner would pay $680 in property taxes: $100,000 times 40% equals $40,000 accessed value, divided by $1,000 equals $40, times 17 mills equals $680 in property taxes. (Note: Property taxes often further reduced by exemptions and other factors.)