Fire tax districts proposed in Bertie

Published 5:15 pm Friday, June 2, 2023

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WINDSOR – There’s no plan to increase property taxes in Bertie County for the upcoming 2023-24 fiscal year.

However, property owners in the majority of the county may see an increase on their annual tax bill if a proposal is approved to establish fire protection service districts.

Bertie County Manager Juan Vaughan II has released his proposed budget for FY 2023-24. The proposed General Fund is $25,337,710, which is a shade over one million dollars higher than the current year budget ($24,307,447). The proposed General Fund budget does not include a fund balance appropriation.

Vaughan said that while there is no proposed increase in the county’s ad valorem (property tax) rate of $0.865, the establishment of a fire protection service tax district is proposed for all unincorporated areas of Bertie County and the towns of Askewville, Aulander, Colerain, Kelford, Lewiston Woodville, Powellsville, and Roxobel.

“This single, unified fire protection service district will finance, provide, and maintain fire and rescue services in the district,” Vaughan said in his budget message. “In order to maintain the current level of service, the Board of Commissioners will levy additional taxes of approximately $0.03762 in this service district, if approved, to replace the historical General Fund appropriation used to fund fire departments.”

Bertie local government currently appropriates $30,000 to each of 12 fire departments in the county. If the FY 23-24 budget is approved, that annual funding will disappear with the exception of the Windsor Fire Department. Vaughan said that the Town of Windsor did not opt in the fire service district. Thusly, $14,500 is included in the proposed budget plan, which represents the tax base the Windsor Fire Department serves in the city limits. Approximately 45 percent of the tax base is within the Town of Windsor while approximately 55 percent is in the unincorporated area of Windsor.

Vaughan’s proposed FY 2023-2024 budget plan incorporates an adjustment to the Bertie County Salary Schedule & Position Classification Plan, which does not include sheriff’s deputy positions, first responders, nor nonemergency transport personnel included on the Sheriff’s Office & Emergency Medical Services/Non-Emergency Transport Salary Schedule & Classification Plans.

This adjustment increases the minimum pay on the general Bertie County Salary Schedule & Position Classification Plan to $11 per hour.

To maintain the consistency and integrity of the plan, all grades will be adjusted accordingly. Employees will receive salary adjustments if their salary is below the newly adjusted minimum and if their salary is not at least on the corresponding step of their respective grade based on years of service in their current position.

Upon approval by the Board of Commissioners, this adjustment will be effective July 1 and the net cost to the General Fund is approximately $300,000.

To build the FY 23-24 budget, Vaughan said the majority of that money ($13.27 million) will come from ad valorem taxes and motor vehicle taxes. Another $3.7 million will come from other taxes, to include the county’s share of the state sales tax.

Bertie continues to receive $2.2 million annually by serving as the host site for a regional landfill.

The Commissioners have scheduled a public hearing on the proposed FY 23-24 budget as part of their 6 p.m. meeting on Monday, June 5.

The new budget is required to approved on or before June 30.


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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