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Gates Co. Manager proposes $15.2 million plan; tax rate unchanged; hike in trash fee

GATESVILLE – Noting a slight decrease in the General Fund from the current year, Gates County Manager Natalie Rountree has released her proposal for the county’s operating budget for 2018-19.

She is holding the line on local taxes as her proposal maintains the current rate of 76 cents (per $100 of property value).

However, Rountree is recommending a $5 hike (from $15 to $20) in the monthly fees for Solid Waste disposal.

“The costs of the landfill and convenience site operations continue to increase while grants are decreasing,” said Rountree in explaining the reason for the monthly increase.

The total budget is proposed at $15,276,657 of which $11,716,631 is General Fund. Rountree applied $150,720 in appropriated fund balance to “balance” the bottom line.

She said the appropriated fund balance will be used to cover the county’s share of planned improvements at the Tri-County Animal Shelter, and for capital improvement projects in Gates County.

The current budget has $11,752,922 earmarked for the General Fund.

The total operating budget for the current year is $15,266,679 – slightly less than her 2018-19 proposal.

She noted that health insurance rates for the county’s local government employees decreased by two percent by switching to the North Carolina League of Municipalities Insurance Pool.

Rountree is proposing merit raises for all employees that are eligible and were recommended by department heads to receive them. This has been included in the departmental budgets.

She added that included in the budget is funding for implementation of year one of the salary study. All employees did not receive a salary increase in year one. Part-time salaries will be reviewed in year two.

The County Manager’s salary was reviewed during the salary study with a recommendation being made. No salary changes were made to her salary.

Rountree said that Article 44 state sales tax must be used for public schools, community colleges, or economic

development. Using using FY18 estimates, $600,000 is being budgeted for the School Capital Reserve Fund for future debt incurred on the Central Middle School Project.

Revenue drivers in the proposed budget are highlighted by local property taxes ($5.63 million); other state sales taxes ($2.13 million); sale of county water ($1.1 million), state/federal DSS reimbursement ($1 million); and $661,030 in motor vehicle taxes.

The total expected revenues will be distributed among the departmental budgets. Consuming the largest share of those expenditures are the county’s school system ($2.8 million), Social Services ($1.65 million), Sheriff’s Office ($1.04 million), GITS ($554,283), Administration and Finance ($424,737), Gates County Rescue Squad ($410,000), Building & Grounds ($402,511), Emergency Management ($385,993), and the Tax Dept. ($347,392).

In the Enterprise (Water/Sewer Fund), $1.08 million is projected in expenditures for the Water Department; $984,440 for Solid Waste; and $92,000 for Sewer.

The county’s Board of Commissioners have received Rountree’s budget proposal and are scheduled to vote on that plan at their scheduled meeting on June 18.

The new budget becomes effective July 1.

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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