Gaston County Commissioners held their required public hearing on the county's fiscal 2023 budget Tuesday night (May 24th), then approved a two cents reduction in the property tax rate from 83 cents per hundred dollars valuation to 81 cents.
Commissioners approved the budget and the reduced tax rate by a 5-2 vote. Commissioners Bob Hovis and Kim Johnson were the dissenting votes.
Commissioner Tom Keigher offered an amendment to the motion that would have reduced the rate by 3.5 cents. He and commissioners Tracy Philbeck and Allen Fraley voted for that amendment, but it failed 4-3.
Keigher said he was concerned that the proposed budget doesn't adequately address the needs of Gaston College and Gaston Emergency Medical Services (GEMS). Even so, he said he believes increased revenues from property and sales taxes would be sufficient to increase allocations to those. "If necessary," he said, "we could temporarily use money from our
Philbeck said last year the County managed not to use any of its fund balance and not increase the tax rate "for the first time in 50 years."
Commissioners also approved a motion that will eliminate parking fees for the lost closest to the courthouse effective July 1st. The fees were originally intended to fund building a parking deck according to discussion at the commissioners' meeting two weeks ago. The money already collected will be used for maintenance of the parking area.
With the tax rate reduction, Gaston County drops down the list of counties in North Carolina with the highest tax rate. Even with the reduction, Gaston's rate will still be higher than the county rate in all neighboring counties.
Lincoln County Commissioners held their public hearing on the fiscal 2023 budget on July 16th. They're expected to approve the budget, which keeps the current tax rate, at their June 6th meeting.