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Martin Co. sees $600,000 drop in funding

October 5, 2011
Jenn Brookens - Staff Writer , Fairmont Sentinel

FAIRMONT - Martin County commissioners say that more than $600,000 the county received from the state last year is disappearing.

"Every time I get together with other county assessors, the news keeps getting worse," Martin County Assessor Dan Whitman told commissioners Tuesday.

As part of the state's budget resolution in July, a credit given to taxpayers was reformulated.

"They gave credit to the taxpayers, then reimbursed the county," explained commission chairman Steve Pierce. "Last year, that amount we got back was $622,483. Now it's a big fat zero."

Commissioners are angry about recent letters and statements from state officials claiming there is no increase in taxes. At least not at the state level.

"They say it's gonna save the state $365 million," Pierce said. "But they also go on to say, 'We will see more spending accountability at the local levels.' They want to have their cake and eat it too. But the counties need to figure out how to make up for this money. The double-talk coming out of that place makes me want to barf."

The credit was a headache for local units of government as they planned their budgets.

"We try so hard to keep our levies down, but it's that state 'no new taxes' creed," said Commissioner Dan Schmidtke. "I thought we were doing good at [a] 1.9 percent [levy], but to meet this we'd need a negative number."

County taxpayers won't see as big a change as the county budget.

For the city of Fairmont, the average increase will be 5.8 percent, even without any other levy increases. Ag lands will see the biggest increase, given the current inflation of ag land value.

"We know we're going to get phone calls about this," Whitman said. "We've got our state representatives' numbers by every phone and we're going to tell people to contact their state reps."



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