Budget deficit averted

Published 10:07 am Monday, June 13, 2016

JACKSON – A $3-plus million hole has been filled.

Northampton County began budget work sessions on May 25. At that time, County Manager Kimberly Turner and Finance Director Leslie Edwards were presented a budget of $30,034,438 of expenditures from all departments, which didn’t jibe with county’s estimated revenue of $26,781,797, leaving a $3,215,375 deficit.

After the work session, the County Manager and Finance Director made further cuts and increased estimated revenues to arrive at a balanced budget that was presented to the Board of Commissioners on Monday, June 6.

They managed to balance the budget with departmental cuts to requested budgets of $1,155,869 and increasing expenditures to $28,878,569.

The county then increased its revenue estimate by adding $33,000 to the estimated ad valorem tax collection, $500,000 in increased sales tax revenues from the state, and added $2,912,830 in revenue from fund balance, leaving 24 percent in the county’s fund balance, which is near the state recommendation of 20 percent in fund balance for a county the size of Northampton.

Turner said this brings projected revenue in balance with projected expenditures of $28,878,569.

“The budget presented included all submitted budgets from county departments as well as other agencies that the county funds,” Turner said

“The budget does not include a tax rate increase,” she said.

Turner said all employees will get a 2.5 percent cost of living increase, as well as a 10 percent decrease in health insurance costs, if the budget is approved by the Commissioners later this month.

She explained that the county now pays 80 percent of employees’ health insurance costs, but will be paying 90 percent of those costs for the 2016-17 budget year.

So employees, now paying 20 percent for health insurance will only pay 10 percent of those costs come July.

The entire budget is laid out for public inspection in the Clerk to the Board’s Office in accordance with general statutes as well as on the county’s website. It will remain there until the budget is adopted.

Northampton County’s budget public hearing has been scheduled for Monday, June 20 at 6:35 p.m.

Turner said that following the June 20 public hearing, the Board is expected to adopt the FY 16-17 Budget Ordinance.