The Wayne County Commissioners, on Thursday December 22nd, unanimously adopted the 2023 General and Debt Service Budget, which lowers the current 2022 millage rate for taxpayers from 5.23 to 3.24 in 2023 because of the recently completed countywide reassessment.
The finalized 3.24 millage rate is even lower than the estimated 3.49 millage rate used in assessment letters mailed to every property owner in Wayne County last summer.
The 2023 budget was approved for $38,924,046.57, an increase of $ 1,369,666.09 or 3.6 % increase from last year, based mostly on slight salary increases, increased benefits costs, and increased cost of materials and services.
“The commissioners are trying to do the best we can to keep costs to taxpayers down even in light of high inflation, increased prices on utilities and goods and slight salary increases. We know it’s not easy for households to balance their budgets and we are trying to do the same,” said Commissioners Brian Smith and Jocelyn Cramer.
For 2023, Wayne County Commissioners committed to a revenue neutral reassessment, meaning that the total of county taxes collected in 2022 would be the same in 2023. Because property values increased significantly since the last reassessment in 2004, the millage rate was decreased to 3.24, a decrease of 1.99 mills from the 2022 rate.
About 65% of the county income source is property tax. Additional sources of income are state and federal grant funds, fees for services and miscellaneous fines. The county had $1,324,810.94 in carryover revenue from 2022 from higher-than-expected inmate boarding fees collected from other counties, and a $187,000 elections security grant.
The county is continuing to upgrade parks and recreation opportunities, to make Wayne County more enjoyable for residents and visitors as well as more attractive to targeted economic development. By capitalizing on state and federal grants, with some local match dollars, the county is also actively investing in broadband upgrades, an agriculture innovation center and a recovery to work ecosystem project.
The Commissioners have continued to balance a fiscally conservative approach in meeting required mandates and providing essential services, while also streamlining expenses and asking departments to do more with less through creative means when possible. Some of the contributing factors that have cut back on expenses include stable health insurance claims in 2022 and lower than budgeted salary line items in several departments due to the inability to fill positions.