Cemetery district approves mill levy holiday

MEEKER | In a welcome move for taxpayers—and for the second year in a row—the Highland Cemetery District Board voted in its Dec. 6 meeting to again implement a temporary lowering of its mill levy from 0.869 to 0.696 for its 2019 budget due to a surplus of funds and the board’s cutting of expenses.

As previously reported in the HT (Feb. 10, 2017), the mill levy is the tax rate that is applied to the assessed value of a property. A “mill” (from the Latin mille, “a thousand”) is 1/1000 of a dollar, or to put it in more practical application, one dollar per $1,000 of assessed value.

So, as it did last year, reducing the district’s revenue by $100,000 provides taxpayers a savings of $14 for the average $250,000 home in property taxes, $71 for a $350,000 business/commercial real property and $212 in savings for oil and gas production properties.

“It’s tax money we don’t need,” board chair Joe Conrado said. “We’ve got (almost) $2 million worth of reserve. I think we are sitting pretty good, and I think we can run on lower budgets, so we’re trying to do this to lessen the impact on the taxpayers.”

In that same vein, the board also approved the 2019 budget. Total projected revenue for 2018 was $463,838.67 and projected expenditures totaled $321,566.16, leaving $142,272.51 in reserves carrying over to 2019. The beginning fund balance for 2019 is a little more than $1.9 million.

The board also voted to add two additional Memorial Walls at $6,995 each, but with a 10 percent discount when ordering two, there’s a $1,259 savings.

Another significant matter concerned the Let Freedom Ring Memorial surrounding the flagpole, which displays the emblems of each of our Armed Forces. When originally built, however, in a totally unintentional oversight, the Coast Guard emblem was inadvertently omitted. This is in the process of being corrected so that this sometimes overlooked branch will receive its just recognition.

Finally, still a challenge for the board was the problem of how to display the Christmas lights that were originally hung on the flag pole—the pole snapped in half during the summer of 2016, presumably due to a microburst. While the current pole is “hurricane strength,” the board is looking for an alternative simply because of the substantial weight of the rope lights and the chance of another incident. While suggestions included a large nearby tree or a special dedicated pole, no decision was made since it is so late in the year.

By DOC WATSON | Special to the Herald Times