County budget keeps current tax rate

Published 1:04 am 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.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

email author More by Mike