Budget proposed

Published 8:50 am Monday, May 20, 2013

GATESVILLE – Jon Mendenhall’s maiden voyage in the budget-building process for Gates County local government is complete. That financial spreadsheet is now in the hands of the county commissioners to debate.

Mendenhall, hired Jan. 14 as the Gates County Manager, presented his FY 2013-14 budget recently during a regularly scheduled meeting of the county commissioners. As noted by the manager, the $10.14 million General Fund budget proposes maintaining the property tax rate at its current level (64 cents per $100 of valuation); no changes to county fees (solid waste disposal, zoning permits and building inspection); and no funds for across the board or merit pay increases for Gates County local government employees.

Mendenhall’s version of the budget does not include any appropriation from the county’s fund balance.

There is a minor increase in the utility rates with the establishment of a sanitary sewer fee.

Mendenhall said expenditures of note planned for the new fiscal year, which begins July 1, include the addition of three new part-time deputies; expansion of crime control and crime prevention efforts (including comprehensive initiatives with a focus on healthy and safe communities); increases to funds devoted to technology, modernization, sustainability and efficiency; increased funding devoted to school aged child education; early repayment of debt; funding for renovations to the historic courthouse using current monies and without the issuance of debt; funding for a vehicle and equipment replacement program; and reorganization of departments and offices to facilitate a more streamlined process for the benefit of customer service.

“I believe that this budget will enable the county to perform its essential mission while only modestly expanding services that are provided,” Mendenhall stated in his budget message to the commissioners at their May 1 meeting.

Mendenhall stressed that even though all local government entities are struggling to achieve balanced budgets, he believed it was prudent at this time to highlight the struggles of the men and women of Gates County.

“These men and women provide for their families in these times of economic uncertainty and constraint, and while doing so participate in the governance of this county for the benefit of themselves and for their posterity,” he noted. “Ultimately it is them, the people of Gates County, that this budget seeks to emulate; sound in resolve, resolute in its purpose to serve the people of this county in an open and constructive manner within the resources that have so fittingly been provided.”

As usual, the bulk of the county’s operating expense comes from ad valorem taxes – $5.26 million in property tax and $619,000 in motor vehicle taxes. The county’s share of the state sales tax accounts for $1.2 million in revenue for the budget.

Other key revenue-generating items include grants and reimbursements ($1.6 million), Medicaid Hold Harmless ($608,267) and prior year taxes ($400,000).

On the expenditures side, Mendenhall proposes $2.61 million for the county schools’ current expense fund plus another $100,000 for capital outlay. Other major expenditures include $1.5 million in debt service payments, $1.2 million for Social Services, $806,189 for the Sheriff’s Office, $455,000 for the Capital Improvement Fund, $312,373 for General Services, $302,290 for Child Day Care, $297,524 for Financial Services, $247,917 for the Tax Department, $239,951 for Emergency Services, $230,135 for Recreation, $215,000 for Jail Services, and $147,915 for Cooperative Extension.

The commissioners conducted a workshop on May 6 to discuss Mendenhall’s proposal.

Copies of the budget are available for public viewing in the County Administrative Building, at the Gates County Public Library, and on the county’s website.

A public hearing on the budget proposal will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 20 during the regularly scheduled meeting of the Gates County Commissioners. The board plans to vote on the adoption of the budget at their June 5 meeting.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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