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Northampton budget proposed

JACKSON – If approved next month, Northampton County citizens will receive a half-cent reduction in the ad valorem tax rate for 2019-20.

This proposal, along with several other details about the upcoming budget, were presented to the Northampton Commissioners by Interim County Manager Robert Murphy at their regular meeting here on Monday, May 20.

“You didn’t give me too many firm directions, but one thing that you were pretty darn firm about was that you wanted a half-cent reduction in the tax rate,” said Murphy.

Murphy also stated he believed the budget proposal covered everything listed in year one of the commissioners’ strategic plan they unveiled back in April.

For the 2019-2020 fiscal year, the proposed budget for the general fund will be $27,807,213 which represents a 4.3 percent reduction from the current budget.

“We took advantage of some increases in revenues,” Murphy continued, noting an increase in local sales tax revenues as one example.

There were some savings in expenditures that also contributed to the projected budget. The county will have 13 fewer full-time positions in their workforce, saving a total of $854,399 in salary and benefits.

Another highlight from the proposed budget will include a 2.5 percent salary increase across the board for all county employees, with the exception of sheriff’s office employees who will receive a seven percent increase.

The proposal also includes funding for new space at the Cultural and Wellness Center as well as allotting $150,000 to establish an Economic Development Opportunity Fund.

“That may be a fund you build over time,” Murphy noted.

The contribution to the public school system is expected to remain unchanged from the previous amount in last year’s budget. The fire district tax rates and the enterprise fund rates will also remain the same for the upcoming fiscal year.

Murphy concluded his presentation by thanking Finance Director Angela Cahoon, Finance Consultant Linda Taylor, and the county department heads for all their work in helping prepare the budget proposal.

Chairman Charles Tyner also thanked department heads for working diligently on the budget, saying, “we’re doing things we’ve never done before because you department heads went line for line in your budget.”

“This is a good budget,” Tyner continued. “This budget represents growth for Northampton County. All the citizens will benefit.”

A public hearing to discuss the proposed budget is set for the Board of Commissioners’ next regular meeting on Monday, June 3.