County budget keeps current tax ratePublished 1:04am Wednesday, May 8, 2013
County Manager Randell K. Woodruff’s recommended county budget for fiscal year 2013-2014 keeps the property tax rate at 53 cents per $100 valuation.
The proposed budget, presented to the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners during its meeting Monday, does not increase fees for services nor does it reduce the levels of services the county provides to the public.
The county is required to have the 2013-2014 budget in place by June 30. The overall proposed budget is $54 million.
“With the economy of eastern North Carolina continuing to be stagnant, Beaufort County also remains in the post-recession doldrums with little progress being made to restore revenue levels to those of past years,” Woodruff said.
The good news in the budget, according to Woodruff, is that the county continues to increase its fund balance (rainy-day fund) “thereby strengthening its financial position by both conservatively projecting revenues and managing its spending.” Woodruff said the county must continue down the path of conservative fiscal management “so as to be in a stronger position once the local economy does in fact begin to benefit from a more robust recovery.”
The proposed budget includes a $12.4 million allocation to Beaufort County Schools, which is an increase of $250,000 over the current allocation and matches the request from the school system.
The school system sought an increase of $753,000 in capital-outlay funds, but Woodruff’s recommendation is to provide an increase of $138,000, for a total capital-outlay appropriation of $1.1 million.
To balance the general fund (day-to-day operations of county government), Woodruff recommends taking $627,000 from its fund balance. The county used $530,000 from its fund balance to balance the current general fund.
The projected fund balance for the upcoming fiscal year is $14.2 million, or about 28 percent of the county’s overall budget. The Local Government Commission, which oversees local governments’ fiscal conditions, strongly recommends that a local government’s fund balance be at least 8 percent of its overall budget. That 8 percent equates to about a month’s worth of operating expenses.
The commissioners will conduct budget work sessions at 5 p.m. May 13, May 14 and May 28 in their meeting room in the county administrative building at 121 W. Third St., Washington.
For additional coverage of the commissioners’ meeting, see future editions of the Washington Daily News.