Only one person appeared at a public hearing <span class=”aBn”><span class=”aQJ”>Tuesday</span></span> night to complain about a proposed 10 percent property tax increase. But some members of the Cache County Council said they have had a lot of telephone calls asking them not to raise taxes.
Cache County Executive Lynn Lemon said what that means is that taxes would go up approximately $23.85 on a home valued at $188,000 and about $45.37 on a business valued at the same amount. Lemon said he sees no other alternative.
“We simply can’t keep doing what we’re doing in the road department. We’ve literally cut the budget by a million dollars,” Lemon explained to the council on Tuesday. “We cut out a number of projects. We’re not getting Secure Rural Schools funding any more.
“We laid off full time employees and part time employees. We can’t continue to do that. But even then, we reduced the fund balance from over $4 million down to $1.5 million.”
The county’s proposed budget calls for a two percent pay increase for employees and a four percent increase for non-council elected officials who did not get a raise last year.
Lemon said the increase is necessary to also help fund mental health, water and road departments. Meanwhile, a room full of sheriff’s deputies made a plea for higher salaries saying many officers are leaving after they are trained, to take other jobs where they make more money.
While the county discussed trying to increase funds in some areas, they also voted to decrease costs in another. The vote was unanimous when the Cache County Council agreed to consolidate two elected offices–County Clerk and County Auditor–into one position.
The issue has been discussed over a period of several months after County Auditor Tamra Stones became ill and went on part-time status.
Lemon said the auditor will be temporarily moved into the Historic Cache County Courthouse from the administration building and for now the finance director, Cameron Jensen, will move into the auditor’s office.
“We realize that this is kind of a work in progress and we’ll just have to do it as we move forward with it,” Lemon said. “But we do think that it will save money and we think that it we can make it work.”
Lemon says he believes the consolidation will save the county more than $50,000 a year.
The new fiscal year budget will be adopted at the next meeting.
In addition to the budget issues that were discussed, a potential bombshell announcement was handed to the council before their meeting got underway. ThermoFisher Scientific sent a message to the Cache County Council on Tuesday saying the European Commission has approved Thermo Fisher’s acquisition of Life Technologies on the condition that it divest of three businesses.
The news release said Thermo Fisher is still working through the specific implications for the company’s sites and employees. It said, “we will work through a process with the regulatory bodies and potential buyers to identify which facilities will be affected.”
What that means for local operations has yet to be determined.