Public Hearing on the FY 15-16 County Budget
In early May I presented a budget to the Board of Commissioners that proposed a 5 cent property tax increase and a general fund budget of some $306.6 million. The Board, to date, has met 3 times to make revisions to the recommended budget. Those changes, as of June 4, represent what the board will take for public comment during public hearing on the budget Monday, June 8. The revisions set a general fund of $302.2 million and proposed tax rate of 57.4 cents, which is a 2 cent increase and not the 5 I recommended.
For those of you that are interested in offering public comment to the Board, or if you’re simply interested in reviewing the board-directed revisions, please keep reading.
Revisions from the May 14, May 28, and June 4 budget work sessions:
- Reduction of $1,081,440 to the public school system ($93,427,899 is now the appropriation target);
- Reduction of $2,138,546 in debt service by delaying the remaining $40 million from the 2008 community college bonds and the first $52 million of the 2014 school bonds ($51,317,350 is now the General Fund debt service appropriation target);
- Reduction of $550,000 from the community college operations and maintenance and capital budget ($11,637,563 is now the appropriation target);
- Reduction of $225,200 in county-funded child care subsidies and capping the program at 100 ($448,000 is now the appropriation target);
- Reduction of $160,000 in the county’s capital improvement plan;
- Reduction of $150,000 in a juvenile justice services review in anticipation of age modifications in the justice system;
- Reduction of $24,836 in other miscellaneous accounts;
- Addition of $10,000 for the arts council;
- Addition of $10,000 for the children’s museum;
- Addition of $9,000 for the Cape Fear Resource, Conservation, and Development district;
- Addition of $5,000 for the Friends of Fort Fisher.
- Increase of $1,624,361 in sales tax collections ($62,267,210 is now the revenue target);
- Increase of $3 million in the appropriated use of the county’s fund balance ($9,700,000 is now the revenue target);
- Revenue from a 2 cent property tax increase v. the 5 cents I proposed.
The noted changes do several things (above the good public policy requirement to adopted a balanced budget), in my opinion:
- Maintains a competitive tax rate as compared to other urban, triple A-bond rated counties across the state and neighboring counties;
- Makes important and significant investments in public education, public safety, and economic development – all of which constitute citizen priorities per the 2014 community survey;
- Preserves the fiscal integrity of the county and aligns with the county’s financial policies to include its debt management policy and its fund balance policy.