By Alex Bridges
Homeowners in one Warren County Sanitary District may see their annual fees triple starting in July.
But residents in the South River Estates Sanitary District want to pay more so they can have better roads, County Administrator Douglas Stanley explained Wednesday. Homeowners asked the county to raise their fees collected through the special taxing district.
The Board of Supervisors held a public hearing Tuesday on the proposed fiscal 2014 budget and fee schedules for the county's sanitary districts.
At that hearing, supervisors heard from School Board Chairwoman Catherine R. Bower and representatives of the Samuels Public Library on the funding recommendations included in the budget. Stanley noted that while the budget includes less money for the library than requested, its representatives thanked the board for the funding.
The proposed budget of $61.6 million calls for no increases in real estate, personal property or other major tax rates. The administration and supervisors balanced next year's budget by cutting departmental funding requests and imposing increases in some fees. However, the county also expects to collect more revenue next fiscal year.
By law, the board must wait seven days before acting on the proposed budget and corresponding list of tax rates and fees.
The board had to reopen the public hearing for those who wanted to comment on proposed changes to the sanitary district because residents said they had been advised the hearing would take place at 7:30 p.m., not 7 p.m. as scheduled.
Warren County has proposed to increase the tax on lots in the South River Estates Sanitary District from $100 to $300, plus 5 cents per $100 of assessed value on the improvements. Taxes on the county's remaining seven sanitary districts would not change under the proposal.
South River Estates residents asked if the county could increase the fees charged to homeowners, Stanley said. Supervisors and staff discussed the request at an early work session on the proposed budget and the board asked administration to bring back more information.
Claudine Farrell, a representative of South River Estates Sanitary District who spoke at the hearing, explained in an email to Stanley that the neighborhood wanted road improvements.
"The reason the South River Estates dues have been increased is to the road maintenance we would like to perform to elevate wash out conditions and erosion issues," Farrell said in a March 19 email. She added that the district plans to have roads built up to improve drainage.
Farrell noted in a subsequent email to Stanley that the homeowners association did not at the time have an estimated cost for the road improvements. All homeowners attended the meeting, Farrell said, and voted on an amount "due to the extensive work that would need to be done." Farrell does not specify which road or roads would need improvements.
Under the proposed fees, residents in South River Estates would pay the second highest rates of any sanitary district, next to High Knob. Some districts have low lot fees but pay higher tax rates.
But as Stanley pointed out, South River Estates has one of the smallest budgets of all the sanitary districts at $5,600. The district wouldn't have money for the road improvements right away.
"So you'd probably have to build up [funds] for a couple of years," Stanley said.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org