Northampton approves tax decrease

Published 4:19 pm Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

JACKSON – With little discussion about the decision, the Northampton County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the new budget for Fiscal Year 2024-25 (FY25) at their meeting on June 27.

Commissioner Kelvin Edwards motioned to adopt the budget ordinance without including the proposed Conway and Severn Fire Service Districts, and Melvetta Broadnax Taylor seconded.

Earlier in that meeting, the board voted to deny the request to create the Fire Service Districts, which would have imposed an extra tax on citizens of those districts (seven cents for Conway and 5.5 cents for Severn).

Northampton County’s total operating budget for FY25 is $43.1 million, of which $37.5 million will be in the General Fund. The new budget also includes a $1.6 million Fund Balance appropriation, which is a decrease from the $2 million appropriation in FY24.

As in previous years, the budget includes a decrease in the ad valorem tax rate, dropping half a cent to $0.83 per $100 of valuation.

For FY25, the largest source of revenue is expected to come from ad valorem taxes at a total of $21.9 million, slightly up from the prior fiscal year. But along with other subcategories including prior year collections and interest and DMV motor vehicle collections, the total ad valorem revenue is projected to equal $24.2 million.

Other major sources of revenue include Sales Tax ($3.5 million), Sales and Services ($2.9 million), Miscellaneous Revenue ($1.6 million), Health Revenue ($1.19 million), and Sales and Services – Health ($1.12 million).

Compared to FY24, Sales Tax is projected to remain about the same while the other sources are expected to increase slightly.

The FY25 budget also includes $1.3 million in ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds to be used before the Dec. 31, 2024 federal deadline. County Manager Julian Phillips stated at a previous budget workshop session that those funds could be used to purchase new vehicles for various departments, including the Sheriff’s Office, Department of Social Services, Enterprise, Maintenance, and more.

For General Fund expenditures, the departments that received the largest allocations include Public Safety, General Government, Education, Human Services – Health, Other Human Services, and Economic/Physical Development.

Public Safety received the most funding, a total of $14.01 million, which is an increase from $13.04 million in FY24. The largest portions of these funds are allocated for ambulance ($4.5 million), sheriff ($4.3 million), jail ($2.4 million), and emergency communication ($1.3 million).

Public Safety allocations also include items such as contributions to volunteer fire departments and funding for animal control, regional airports, CPTA, and more.

The allocation for General Government has also increased by about $200,000, bringing the total to $6.6 million for FY25. The areas slated to received the largest portion of those funds include buildings & grounds ($1.4 million), finance ($1.2 million), and tax department ($911,000).

Education received a $4.7 million allocation, which is a decrease of $1.5 million from FY24. That difference comes from a one-time allocation last year for the Northampton County school district to purchase land for the new high school. The construction itself, however, will be covered by a $50 million grant from the state’s Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund.

The bulk of the Education allocation will go towards Current Expense ($3.8 million) for the school district, a slight increase from FY24. Funds were also included in the budget for Halifax Community College ($362,000) and Roanoke-Chowan Community College ($110,000). These are the same allocations they received in FY24 as well.

Human Services – Health received an increase in funding, with a total of $4.2 million for FY25. The areas which received the most funding include home health ($1.1 million), health programs ($950,607), environmental health ($390,955), and family planning ($330,069). These were the top funded areas in FY24 as well.

Other Human Services was allocated $3.4 million, and the bulk of that funding ($2.8 million) will go to the county’s Department of Social Services.

Economic/Physical Development received a decrease of approximately $800,000 in funding, bringing their allocation to $1.7 million for FY25. Capital outlay expenses (non-departmental) is listed as the area with the highest allocation at $850,000.

Separate from the General Fund, the Enterprise (Water & Sewer) Fund is budgeted at $3.7 million for FY25.

In previous budget workshop sessions, Phillips also noted that the new budget includes a two percent Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) and two percent merit increase for all full-time and permanent part-time employees, except for law enforcement, which will receive an eight percent merit increase.

Phillips also mentioned two capital projects that were included in the FY25 budget ordinance as non-recurring. Those projects are $935,000 for EMS (two ambulance remounts and replacement stretchers) and $400,000 for Buildings & Grounds (for asphalt resurfacing and 14 HVAC replacements).

The new budget went into effect on July 1.