Gates County Commissioners adopt new budget

Published 9:42 am Friday, June 30, 2023

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GATESVILLE – Gates County has a new budget for Fiscal Year 2023-24 that doesn’t include a property tax increase.

Reconvening here last week from their June 14 meeting where a public hearing was held on the new budget, the Gates County Board of Commissioners approved the anticipated revenues the expenditures on that financial spreadsheet.

County Manager Scott Sauer presented the budget ordinance for adoption, noting that the ad valorem (property tax) rate remains at 84 cents per $100 of value. He also said the new budget contains a two percent cost of living raise for county employees.

Sauer did note one change made to the budget ordinance as pointed out by the county’s Finance Director William Roberson. That change involves a $60 reconnect fee for customers of the Gates County Water Department.

“Sometimes previously, the county suspended that fee, which is usually assessed when a customer’s water has been cut off due to non-payment of their bill,” Sauer said. “When the customer paid the past due bill, the water service is re-established upon paying a $60 reconnect fee.”

Sauer said the suspension of that fee caused the water department to “miss many opportunities for revenue.”

“We ask for the start of the new fiscal year that this fee be reactivated,” Sauer said.

The commissioners acted on that request outside of their consideration of the budget ordinance.

Commissioner Linda Hofler recalled the scenario that led to the previous decision by the board to suspend the reconnect fee.

“It was at a time when there was a lot of confusion about the verbiage [of policies/regulations linked to water bills] and we decided not to reinstate the reconnect fee at that point while we reviewed all policies,” Hofler said.

“I thought we had put that back in this year’s budget, but apparently we didn’t,” added Commission Vice Chair Jonathan Craddock.

On a motion from Craddock and a second by Hofler, the $60 reconnect fee for water service was approved for reactivation.

With that, the board, on a motion from Commissioner Brian Rountree and a second by Hofler, the FY 2023-24 budget ordinance was approved.

That new budget, which takes effect July 1, totals $15,082,619 in the General Fund.

Public Safety ($3,996,464) receives the most taxpayer money in the county. Among others, that department includes the Sheriff’s Office ($1,630,469), Gates County Rescue & EMS ($974,438), Telecommunications ($587,393), and Emergency Management ($227,612).

Human Services, which includes the Department of Social Services and Health / Mental Health, gains $2,334,996 in taxpayer funding for FY 2023-24.

Current expense funding for the school system remains unchanged at $2,953,000.

General Government – which includes Administration, Tax Department, Building and Grounds, Finance and Information Technology, Board of Elections, and Register of Deeds – will operate on $2,557,552 during FY 23-24.

Local property taxes ($8,616,659) and state sales tax ($3,063,000) are the two leading sources of revenue to build the FY 23-24 county budget.

The county’s overall operating budget for the new fiscal year totals $20,138,899. That amount includes the Enterprise Fund (Water/Sewer: $1,510,482 and Solid Waste: $1,024,067).

At a previous meeting, the commissioners agreed to adjust the FY 23-24 budget to include a two percent cost of living increase for all county employees. At that time, each commissioner expressed a desire to do more in an effort to provide competitive and fair wages for all employees. However, without a property tax increase, the two percent hike was all the county could afford.

The commissioners did agree to evaluate the FY 2022-23 fourth quarter (April, May & June, 2023) sales tax receipts as it analyzes General Fund revenue performance. In early October, the commissioners will learn of the amount of sales tax coming to the county from the fourth quarter. Depending on the economic strength of that sales tax report, the board will examine options for additional salary adjustments.


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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