HC budget approved

Published 11:40 am Saturday, July 2, 2016

WINTON – No tax hikes, and no increase in user fees for water or solid waste….in a nutshell, that’s all the taxpayers of Hertford County wanted to know about the proposed county’s operating budget for 2016-17.

And for the employees of Hertford County local government, they were keeping their fingers crossed for a three percent cost of living increase and 100 percent funding of their health benefits.

After the Hertford County Board of Commissioners put their unanimous stamp of approval on the new 2016-17 budget here Wednesday afternoon, it was a wish come true for the general public and the county employees.

All totaled, the county’s new budget, which went into effect July 1, stands at $27,615.411. Meanwhile, the property tax rate remains at 84 cents (per $100 of value), and the new budget was built without any increases to the users fees for the Northern and Southern Rural Water Districts, the Tunis Sewer District, and for solid waste (household garbage disposal).

As she mentioned back in May when delivering her budget message to the commissioners, County Manager Loria Williams proposed an increase in expenditures for 2016-17, but would be able to do so without a tax increase. Those increases were for renovations ($300,000) to County Office Building #1 in Winton (which will be completely taken over by DSS); $218,158 for a cost-of-living hike for county employees; increases for both Roanoke-Chowan Community College ($155,000) and Hertford County Public Schools ($125,000); the first full year of operations for the new E-911 Center ($161,525), salary increases for the Sheriff’s Office ($112,000); and purchasing two new vehicles, including a new ambulance ($107,000).

Those expenditures were offset by a new stream of projected revenue: an added $250,000 in state sales tax during the new fiscal year, approximately $175,000 from the federal government in a cost-sharing deal to renovate Office Building #1 for full use by DSS; and nearly $300,000 in ad valorem tax growth.

Another revenue stream is nearly $370,000 in liquidated damages the county received in 2016 following a settlement with the contractor for the new courthouse and government center, a project that was finished far beyond its contracted completion date.

The county will also receive $136,796 from Ahoskie and Murfreesboro as the proportionate cost share from those two municipalities to help cover the cost of operating the new E-911 Communications Center, which is scheduled to open on July 12.

The finalized budget approved by the commissioners on Wednesday is anchored by nearly $12 million in ad valorem taxes. Other major streams of revenue include $3.8 million in state sales and use tax, $3.77 million in restricted DSS funding, $1.4 million in vehicle taxes, and a $1.5 million infusion from the county’s healthy fund balance.

Education tops the appropriations from the budget at a shade over $7 million. Of that amount, Hertford County Public Schools is scheduled to receive $4.4 million in current expense funding and another $1.37 million in capital outlay. Roanoke-Chowan Community College will gain $1.28 million, of which $233,000 is for capital outlay projects.

Human Services is scheduled to receive $6.7 million, with DSS receiving the lion’s share ($5.2 million)

Public Safety’s share of the budget totals $6.6 million, topped by $2 million for the Sheriff’s Office; $1.88 million for the jail; and $1.1 million for EMS.

Led by $850,532 for Public Buildings and Maintenance, the General Government portion of the budget is $3.95 million.

Hertford County’s debt service for 2016-17 is $1,034.988. The majority of those payments are for the new county courthouse ($546,349) and new county administration building ($303,076).

On a motion from Commissioner Curtis Freeman and a second from Commissioner Bill Mitchell, the 2016-17 budget was approved without objection.

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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