Public hearing set for March 26 on proposed new real estate and personal property tax rates

The Pulaski County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing Monday, March 26 to gain public comment on proposed real estate and personal property tax levies.

According to a public notice running in this week’s Patriot, the new real estate tax rate is proposed to increase by 13 cents to 77 cents per $100 of assessed value.  The new rate represents a 20 percent increase over the current rate of 64 cents per $100 of assessed value.

Also proposed is a 20 cent increase in the county’s personal property tax rate – an 8.5 percent increase.

If approved, the new personal property tax rate would equal $2.55 per $100 of assessed value.

The rise in the real estate tax rate is related to the servicing of the debt to construct and furnish the new consolidated Pulaski County Middle School.

Voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum in November to build the new school at a cost of $47 million, with the knowledge that the tax rate would increase by as much as 13 cents to raise the money needed to pay the debt on bonds issued to finance the project.

According to Supervisors Chairman Andy McCready, the proposed hike in personal property tax rate is directly related to what he called a “substantial” rise in the number of rescue calls received by Regional Emergency Medical Services, Inc. (REMSI).

“We have seen a substantial increase in the number of rescue calls for REMSI,” McCready said this week.

“January was an all-time record month for calls, and February was an all-time high for February,” he added.

McCready predicted the county would top 6,000 rescue calls this year “easily,” and said REMSI just doesn’t have staffing enough to cover the increasing number of calls.

To illustrate how thin Pulaski County’s rescue coverage is becoming due to staffing limitations in the face of increased call volume, McCready pointed to a situation in a recent afternoon in which the county’s rescue personnel were swamped with six calls in just 15 minutes.

“Four of the six calls were serious,” McCready said, noting that a rescue crew from Radford City had to respond to one of the calls in the Fairlawn area.

He continued that in the case of the Fairlawn call, the individual needing assistance opted to go to the hospital in a private vehicle.  That freed up the Radford unit.  However, it did not return back across the river to Radford.

“They went on to one of the calls in Dublin,” McCready said.

McCready explained that Pulaski is covered by REMSI on a 24-hour basis, as is Dublin.  Fairlawn, however, is covered only 16 hours per day. Coverage in Pulaski also includes Pulaski Fire Fighters responding to calls when needed.

The Massie District supervisor said the county wants to add enough full-time rescue employees to increase the coverage in Fairlawn to 24 hours per day, and beef up coverage throughout the county as call volume increases.

Some of the new positions would be for dual-qualified, fire-medic personnel.

The county also wants to hire a full-time fire investigator, a position sought by volunteer fire department chiefs who are swamped by answering calls and other duties, but often times must handle the chores of a fire investigator as well.

The cost of the proposals, McCready said, would be in excess of $600,000.

McCready explained that every 10 cents of increase in the property tax – or car tax as some call it – raises about $220,000.  The proposal to increase the personal property tax rate by 20 cents would raise some $440,000 toward the $600,000 cost of the REMSI additions.

The March 26 hearing will begin at 7 p.m. and is slated for the Supervisors Meeting Room in the County Administration Building at 143 Third Street in Pulaski.

Those wishing to comment on the increase should read the public notice on the hearing located in this week’s issue which will hit stands Friday morning or you can see it early Friday morning on our website. Click on the “View the Paper” tab on our home page and click on the March 16, 2018 issue.

By Mike Williams, The Patriot