Could an increase in property taxes be in the future because of the predicted shortfalls in the Town of Jackson budget?
The town met with Teton County commissioners last week to propose that they reduce their share of funding for joint departments to the tune of about $6 million dollars.
Making the county commissioners ‘Bad Guys’
During the discussion, county leaders scoffed at the proposal. County Commissioner Greg Epstein said the town should cut spending and stop trying to make Teton County leaders into the bad guys. “You’re putting this into the hands of the Commission making us make really hard decisions and deal with our constituents when I’m not sure if you’ve exercised all your options like cutting spending in other places.”
“We could talk about some of the things that the county has to take care of. Would you guys like to take on the $100 million courthouse?” he asked.
“We helped you guys last year with the vehicle maintenance shop needs to have no problem giving whatever balance there was that needed to be paid you’ve had those conversations in the past we’ve worked it out but for you guys to then come to us now and make us end up being a county bad bad guys to our constituents and have to raise taxes do this raise more revenue I’m not sure if that’s necessarily honest”
County Commission chairman Luther Probst said the town’s request comes too late for this year’s budget process. “We received the letter on the 21st of April and you know our departments are deep into budgeting for this year,” Probst said.
Next budget cycle
He added, “So I think that creates a challenge on our side if we’re going to you know ask the departments to rejigger and do some cuts longer term I think there’s more opportunity for common ground thinking next fiscal year rather than this fiscal year, in ‘25 rather than fiscal year ‘24”
Town Administrator Tyler Sinclair said the changes in funding could begin to be implemented for the next budget. “I have proposed a balanced budget based on the current requests of joint departments so that is for fiscal year ’24,” Sinclair said.
Sinclair told the officials, “The graph showed that starting in fiscal year ‘25 we kind of get right to the minimum of what our reserves would be based upon the assumptions we have; and then it’s after that then we really would have to make significant changes either in expenditures or revenues to make sure that the town’s budget is sustainable over the long term.”
Raise property Taxes
Commissioner Mark Newcomb said the town and county don’t have enough money to pay the bills and new property taxes might be necessary. “Generally, if we look at everything that all the revenues for the town of the county but just ignore whether they actually come from the town or from the county sources, and then look at all the expenditures, the basic issue is we are providing services beyond what we can pay for.”
Newcomb said, “The basic solution is to raise more revenue and the revenue can either come from increases in counties property taxes, and then we easily accommodate the 67% to 33% (split of expenses). Or the at least the good part of the solution could come from the town implementing higher levels of property tax on their end.”
Local residents just received their new tax assessments which account for a massive increase for most homeowners.
The two elected groups agreed to proceed with the current budget process and work on a new funding equation for the next budget cycle.