Brunswick County Manager Ann Hardy on Monday presented county commissioners with her recommended budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which is an increase of 1.9 percent of the current year’s budget.
Hardy’s recommended $214.2 million budget includes a revenue-neutral property tax rate of 48.5 cents per $100 of property valuation. The county underwent a property revaluation in January, which saw the county’s assessed value of all properties drop 10 percent, Hardy said. The budget includes a $3 million fund balance appropriation.
“The recommended budget is based upon the revenue-neutral ad valorem tax rate of 48.5 cents, which is an increase of 4.25 cents over the current rate of 44.25 cents,” Hardy said. A revenue-neutral tax rate is one that is projected to produce the same amount of revenue equal to the current year’s revenue if a revaluation had not occurred.
“As required by N.C. General Statutes, the county calculates a revenue neutral tax rate based on the average of growth during the past our years,” Hardy said.
The value of 1 cent on the tax rate is $2.1 million, compared to $2.3 million in the current fiscal year. The county tax on a home valued at $250,000 would be $1,212, and the county tax on a vehicle with a $25,000 value would be $121.
County revenues are continue to “modestly” improve with all major categories increasing, she said.
“Department heads submitted conservative and thoughtful budget requests that are in line with the current year,” Hardy said. “The focus of the budget is providing high service levels within currently available resources, the elimination of services that may more effectively be provided by the private sector or specialized nonprofits while achieving the revenue neutral tax rate.”
Hardy’s proposed budget includes a pay scale increase of 1 percent for all county employees and a 1- to 2-percent merit increase for eligible county employees.
An additional $800,000 was allocated to the county’s board of elections for November’s municipal elections, as well as next year’s presidential primary, May primary and a possible second primary for training in the state’s new voter ID requirement.
“Funding in the amount of $800,000 is recommended for temporary salaries to accommodate staffing for one-stop voting, Election Day voting locations and peak elections office work, along with additional training and check in stations for law changes in 2016 for the photo ID requirement,” Hardy said.
Central government is slated to receive $12.1 million, public safety–including the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office–is budgeted for $35.3 million, human services are expected to receive $27.7 million and economic development is tapped to receive $5.7 million.
“This proposal expands existing service levels in DSS utilizing state funds, continues to focus on improvements to the technology infrastructure, maintains funding for public schools, funds the employee compensation plan and provides funding for an effort to determine a dedicated funding stream for shoreline protection,” Hardy said.
Brunswick County Schools
Hardy recommends an allocation of $34.49 million to Brunswick County Schools, which was based on the board’s longstanding funding agreement with the Brunswick County Board of Education.
Following a heated discussion on the matter, a divided school board decided 3-2 to adopt the agreement with the county at a meeting earlier this month.
“The county is recommended to enter into a funding agreement with the Brunswick County Board of Education through June 30, 2017,” Hardy said. “The terms of the agreement are substantially identical to prior agreements. The requirements are for the county to provide 36.5 percent of the ad valorem tax revenue to the schools for operating expenditures less the portion of the tax rate dedicated to pay debt service.”
Commissioners will hold a public hearing on the budget at 6:30 p.m. June 15, with adoption expected later that meeting.