Two of the taxing districts in Marshall County are set to hold public hearings on Aug. 20 at the Marshall County Courthouse in Benton. The Marshall County Conservation District is set to increase its rate; the Marshall County Public Libraries is set to remain the same.

The Marshall County Conservation District's hearing begins at 8:30 a.m. in the county courthouse located at 1101 Main Street in Benton's court square. Kyle O'Dell, chairman of the conservation district's board, said they'll meet in the fiscal courtroom on the top floor of the building.

The district hopes to increase the tax rate from .005% to .00575%, which O'Dell said will result in an additional $15,000 annually for the district. With the increased rate, the district should collect just under $115,000 annually.

The current rate was set in 1943, O'Dell said, and this is the first increase the district has ever requested in all that time. He noted that even with the increase, the conservation district will still draw the least of any taxing districts in the county, pulling in $0.0575 from each $1,000.

"We are responsible for maintaining four watersheds in the county including the retardant walls and with increased cost of everything, we don't want to run out of money," he explained. "We had discussed maybe trying to increase a little more than that but we don't want to burden the taxpayers with any more than we absolutely have to, so that's the reason we selected the number we did."

O'Dell said the district's only source of income is the taxes collected each fall and that carries them from year to year. He said they take only what they need in order to operate.

The district is overseen and managed by a seven-member board that meets on the second Wednesday of each month at 8 a.m. in the soil conservation office off 5th Street in Benton across from Country Chevrolet. That board, O'Dell explained, oversees maintenance including keeping the structures mowed and sprayed for woody growth. They also keep track of the risers that allow controlled water drainage from the reservoirs, which also have to be regularly cleaned out and often repaired. Those are among the regular, anticipated costs, he said.

But they also have to prepare for unanticipated costs, like when the flooding rains of July 2016 dropped seven inches in just a few days and washed out an entire spillway at one of the structures, O'Dell said. He said the project to repair that spillway is ongoing and the Marshall County Fiscal Court agreed to assist with financing the project because the district didn't have enough to cover the cost.

"Costs are increasing every year on everything so we just felt like it was necessary that we try to raise additional revenue to make sure the conservation district is sound on into the future," he added. "It's just to make sure the conservation district doesn't run out of money down the road where we wouldn't have any money to operate on at all."

On the main floor in the EOC room of the county courthouse beginning at 8 a.m. that same day is a public hearing for the Marshall County Public Library Board of Trustees taxing rate. But MC Public Libraries Director Kristi Tucker said they're not seeking an increase--the reason for the hearing is to ensure her board has options when it comes time to decide whether they want to remain the same or decrease the real property tax.

The real property tax rate for 2018 was 9.4 cents with an anticipated revenue of just under $1.8 million. For 2019, the compensating rate for real property, which Tucker said is supposed to create the same revenue, is 9.2 cents, creating an anticipated revenue of just over $1.8 million. But the option she wants to be able to present to her board later this month is keeping the real property tax rate at 9.4 cents, which could result in $1.9 million.

Tucker said she has no way of knowing what the board will decide to do, whether they will choose to lower the rate to 9.2 or keep it at 9.4; but in order for her to present it as an option instead of tying their hands to the 9.2, she has to hold a public hearing.

"I chose to hold this hearing and then the board will choose whether to lower it or keep it the same.

I'm just trying to give the board options; we're not trying to raise it," she explained. "We're so concerned about things going on in the state and then this building project, it scares me to think we could start bringing in less money. It's just about providing options."

Tucker said the personal property rate for 2018 was 10.21 cents with anticipated revenue of $340,722; the compensating personal property rate for 2019 has decreased to 9.7 cents with anticipated revenue of $323,703.

Marshall County Clerk Tim York said taxing authorities are tasked with setting new rates each year in Aug. and those rates are effective for the property tax bills mailed in Oct.

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