Budget time in the Roanoke-Chowan

Published 3:43 pm Friday, June 24, 2022

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JACKSON – With only a few minor adjustments from the initial presentation, the Northampton County Board of Commissioners approved their budget for Fiscal Year 2022-23 (FY23) at their meeting here on June 20.

County Manager Julian Phillips went over highlights of the budget before opening the floor for citizens to comment during the public hearing.

Phillips noted that the total operating budget will be $38.7 million, and $31.7 million of which will be for the General Fund. The fund balance appropriation will be $1.8 million, up slightly from FY22.

In continuing the trend from previous years, the FY23 budget also includes a half-cent decrease in ad valorem taxes, bringing the tax rate to $0.90 per $100 of property valuation. Phillips noted that a half-cent decrease equates to $109,253 of revenue. But he also noted that they calculated the projections based on a 95 percent collection rate, and Northampton County had a collection rate of over 96 percent in FY22.

The FY23 budget also includes “Phase II” of employee pay adjustments. Phase I was implemented earlier this year, bringing the minimum wage for county employees up to $15 per hour. Phillips explained that Phase II will address the problem of compression, which is when long-term employees and brand-new employees are too close together in the pay range.

He also noted that a 2.5 percent Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) has been projected in the budget.

“I believe it’s a good budget. It’s a sound budget,” Phillips said, concluding his overview.

During the public hearing afterwards, only Garry Elliott of Jackson chose to share his thoughts on the proposed budget. He asked a few questions about vehicle purchases and fire district taxes.

Following the public hearing, Board Chair Charles Tyner requested some minor changes to the contingency fund budget. He suggested earmarking $100,000 for the school district to use in case of emergencies and $200,000 to be used in case of a natural disaster within the county. He cited the destructive tornado which leveled a mobile home park in Bertie County during Hurricane Isaias in 2020 as an example of what to be prepared for.

“We ought to be proactive,” he explained.

Commissioner Geneva Faulkner agreed with the suggestion, adding that it would be a good idea to come up with a written guideline to utilize those funds if that became necessary.

Once the discussion concluded, the commissioners voted unanimously to adopt the FY23 budget with the proposed adjustments. Faulkner provided the motion, and Commissioner Joyce Buffaloe seconded.

The $38.7 million total operating budget for FY23 is a little over $2 million more than the FY22 budget.

A majority of the county’s revenues are expected to come from ad valorem taxes. That amount, along with DMV collections and back taxes, is projected to total $22.4 million.

Other major sources of revenue include Sales Tax ($2.9 million), Sales and Services ($1.6 million), and Health Revenues ($1.2 million). Compared to FY22, Sales Tax revenues and Health revenues are projected to be slightly higher while Sales and Services is expected to be about the same.

For expenditures, the departments which will receive the largest allocations include Public Safety, General Government, Education, Human Services (Health), Other Human Services, and Economic/Physical Development.

As in prior years, Public Safety will receive the most funding, at a total of $11,675,736. The largest portions of these funds will go to ambulance service ($4.03 million), sheriff ($3.4 million), jail ($1.8 million), and emergency communications ($1.1 million).

Public Safety allocations also include items such as contributions to local rescue squads and funding for animal control, regional airports, CPTA, and more.

General Government will receive about $1 million more in funding compared to FY22, bringing the FY23 total to $5,689,400. The areas which will be allocated the biggest portion of those funds include buildings and grounds ($1.1 million), finance ($937,373), and tax department ($744,870). All of those allocations are higher than what they received in FY22.

While still receiving one of the largest allocations in the county, the total money allotted for Education decreased by a marginal $9,000 for FY23, totaling $4,396,939. Most of that money ($4.2 million) is allocated to Northampton County Schools.

Halifax Community College and Roanoke Chowan Community College, which both serve students in Northampton County, will receive allocations of $103,468 and $60,471, respectively. Both totals are an increase from FY22.

Human Services (Health) will receive slightly more funding than the previous year, bringing the total allocation to $3,757,998. Home health ($1.06 million), health programs ($930,007), environmental health ($350,105), family planning ($285,688), and school nurse funding ($150,000) are the areas which will receive the most funding. These were the top funded areas last year as well.

Other Human Services was allocated $2,486,748 for FY23, an increase of $265,000 compared to the previous fiscal year. The county’s Department of Social Services will receive the bulk ($2.1 million) of that funding.

Economic/Physical Development’s allocation is slightly lower than in FY22. This year’s allocation will total $1,536,517. Capital outlay expenditures (non-departmental) is listed as the area with the highest allocation at $811,986.

With the approval of the commissioners at Monday’s meeting, the new budget will go into effect on July 1.