Manager’s recommended budget presented to board

Published 10:15 am Tuesday, May 14, 2024

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WASHINGTON, N.C. –– On Monday night, the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners received the Manager’s Recommended Budget for the Fiscal Year 2024-2025.

A copy of the Recommended Budget is available for public inspection online at www.BeaufortCountyNC.Gov, and a physical copy can be viewed at the Beaufort County Administration Building located at 121 W. Third St. in Washington.

The Board of Commissioners and county staff will participate in budget workshops over the next several weeks. These workshops are open to the public and will be held at 136 W. Second St. in Washington. Video recordings of the workshops will be posted on the Beaufort County website and YouTube page. The budget workshop schedule is as follows:

• Thursday, May 16, 5 p.m. –– General Fund review
• Tuesday, May 21, 5 p.m. –– Remainder of General Fund and Enterprise Funds
• Thursday, May 23, 5 p.m. –– Service Expansions
• Monday, June 3, 5:30 p.m. –– Public hearing on budget during regular Board of Commissioners meeting
• Tuesday, June 4, 5 p.m. –– Finalize budget
• Monday, June 10, 5:30 p.m. –– Special called meeting to adopt the budget

The new fiscal year begins July 1, 2024.

Here’s an overview of the recommended budget:

• Maintains the County ad valorem tax rate at $0.625 for each $100 of assessed valuation. The tax rate was cut in the FY 21-22 budget by $0.01 and remains at that same level for the 4th straight year despite increased inflation pressures. With an effective tax rate of $0.4118, Beaufort County ranks the 19th lowest among all 100 North Carolina counties (81 counties with higher effective tax rates and 18 counties with lower effective tax rates).
• Includes a general fund budget of $75,204,796, which is 3.9% greater than the original FY 23-24 budget, but only 1/10th of 1 percent higher than the reported 3.8% consumer price index (CPI) for the prior 12 months.
• Maintains all the County services and programs provided in the prior year.
• Includes a 3.5% cost of living increase. The south region CPI for the 12-month period as of March was 3.8%. The recommended budget has historically not included a COLA but has instead listed it as a service expansion. The Board has worked hard over the past several years to strengthen the pay and classification plan for the County by conducting market studies, adjusting rates as needed and maintaining those rates against inflation by including cost of living increases. This has shown to be beneficial in retaining and recruiting qualified staff members. Including a COLA in the recommended budget works to continue those efforts.
• Increases the K-12 public school system funding level over the prior year by 3.6% for both current expense and capital outlay line items. The projected CPI at the time the budget was developed was 3.6%.
• Meets the funding request by the Community College and includes one-time capital funding of $500,000 for a trades building project. This project was approved for funding by the Board of Commissioners in FY 23-24.
• Maintains the prior year EMS tax rates in all districts and the prior year fire tax rate in both southside fire districts. It includes a 1 cent rate increase for the northside fire district. The northside fire district is comprised of 10 volunteer fire departments that share in the fire tax revenues generated in the district. The northside fire chiefs unanimously requested a 1 cent rate increase due to inflationary pressures especially related to capital expenditures.
• Increases the solid waste fee by $8 to offset the costs of increasing solid waste disposal and inflation. The increase also funds the opening of the Republic Services Transfer Station on Flanders Filter Road for four hours every Saturday to receive waste. This was approved by the Board in FY 23-24 to begin July 1, 2024, so that disposal of construction and demolition debris would be available on the weekends. The funding is only to pay for the opening of the transfer station. Disposal costs will be paid by those using the transfer station. The program will be evaluated after 6 months to determine if it will continue.
• Increases water rates by 3% due to inflation pressures. Rates are equal across all districts.