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HC taps General Fund to balance new budget

WINTON – Without a healthy fund balance, Hertford County citizens may have been saddled with a property tax increase for the 2010-11 fiscal year.

By moving just over $1.1 million from its General Fund balance, county officials kept the tax rate at 91 cents (per $100 of valuation) and were able to appropriate all county services with at least level funding, some slightly higher, from the current year’s budget.

Despite dipping into the fund balance at a record level, Hertford County Manager Loria Williams noted that pot of money remains healthy. It had grown from just under $4 million in 2005 to just over $6 million in 2009. The $6 million reflects 30.4 percent of the county’s operating budget, an above average rate for small rural counties.

At their Monday night meeting, the Hertford County Board of Commissioners approved a $22.72 million budget for 2010-11. The top sources of revenue were $9.56 million in ad valorem taxes, nearly $4 million in DSS restricted intergovernmental funds, $3.5 million in sales and use taxes, $1.3 million in vehicle taxes and the $1.1 million from the General Fund.

Just over $7 million in appropriations to Human Services led the expense side of the budget. Of that amount, $5 million was allocated for DSS Administration and DSS Public Assistance.

Education receives $5.77 million of the new budget, an increase of nearly $700,000 from the current fiscal year. The current expense fund of Hertford County Public Schools was allocated $4.17 million plus $400,000 in capital outlay money. Roanoke-Chowan Community College will receive $778,839 from the county during 2010-11.

A total of $5.32 million was earmarked for Public Safety. Of that amount, the Sheriff’s Office ($1.67 million), Jail ($1.81 million) and Emergency Medical Services ($1.0 million) will receive the lion’s share of the funds.

General Government ($2.6 million), Fund Transfers ($860,000), Economic & Physical Development ($447,478), Special Appropriations ($346,550), Debt Service ($243,459) and Contingency Fund ($50,000) comprise the remainder of the budget expenditures.

Commissioner Howard Hunter III motioned to approve the budget as presented. Commission Vice-Chair Curtis Freeman offered a second and the budget was approved without opposition.