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Nhamp. tax rate unchanged

JACKSON – The ad valorem tax rate will remain the same in Northampton County.

At their Monday meeting, the Board of Northampton County Commissioners unanimously approved the proposed budget for this upcoming 2008-09 fiscal year (FY) after a public hearing was held for comments.

For the second year, Northampton County’s tax rate will be 78 cents per $100 of value.

“This goal was accomplished by holding expenditures to a $163,350 or 0.007 percent increase over current year approved funding levels and by appropriating $446,704 from the available fund balance,” said County Manager Wayne Jenkins.

The $23.1 million general budget satisfies a debt liquidation schedule of just over $1.5 million of which $690,302 is schools; $844,075 is general county debt and retains a contingency fund in the amount of $100,000.

The budget provides for a $917,915 or an 11.4 percent reduction in Human Services, which Jenkins said is a directly attributed to Medicaid relief legislation, which phases out state responsibility for Medicaid, eventually freeing county governments of the burden.

A part of this reduction was reflected as Jenkins explained how county property taxes were budgeted to be spent. In current year property tax expenditures, 26.1 percent of the taxes collected went to the Department of Social Services (DSS); in the upcoming year, 20 percent of those taxes are budgeted

The approved budget also includes a five percent increase in General County Government and an 11.1 percent increase in Public Safety. A two and one-half percent cost of living increase was proposed for county employees as well as a five cent increase on mileage reimbursement, bringing the rate to 48 cents per mile.

County funding for Northampton County Schools was also increased. The budget appropriates $4.1 million to the school system, which is an increase of $116,581 (2.9 percent) from current expense. Of the $4.1 million, $3.5 million is earmarked for current expense while $400,000 is for capital outlay and $140,000 coming from fines and forfeitures.

The only comment made during the budget’s public hearing came from Steven Jackson, who serves on the Board of Trustees for Albemarle Regional Library. Jackson was concerned about the money budgeted for the library.

Jackson was concerned about a $5,000 cut the library may take.

“I just want you to know $5,000 would hurt us real bad,” he said.

Jenkins informed Jackson that the budget had been tweaked since the last budget work session, in which that $5,000 reduction was considered, and library would be allotted the same as it had last year.

The commissioners, along with Jenkins and Finance Officer Dot Vick, began the budgeting process last September.

Each of the officials involved noted the arduous task of “balancing the budget.”

“I believe we have a budget that will continue to offer the services that we are duly sworn to,” said Commission Chairman Robert Carter.

The commissioners unanimously approved the budget. Commissioner Chester Deloatch (D-3rd) was absent from the meeting.

The budget will be effective July 1.