A half-cent decrease in the county’s property tax rate and a nearly a 9 percent increase in spending are among the budget recommendations in the proposed 2021-22 fiscal year budget presented at Monday’s Pitt County Board of Commissioners meeting.
The proposed $281,464,116 budget also fully funds the requests of Pitt County Schools and Pitt Community Community College, Pitt County Manager Scott Elliott said.
The board of commissioners will begin detailed discussions of the proposed budget and hear requests from multiple departments and partner agencies beginning at 8:30 today. Budget meetings also are scheduled for the same time Wednesday and Thursday.
The meetings will be broadcast live on Suddenlink channel 13 and www.YouTube.com/PittCountyNC.
A large portion of the increase comes from a recommended $12 million transfer from the county’s fund balance for one-time building projects, Elliott said.
Deputy County Manager/Chief Financial Officer Brian Barnett said he and Elliott are recommending the one-time transfer because he estimates the county’s fund balance grew by $15 million because of larger-than-expected growth in revenue during the current fiscal year.
“If you go back to last year we had no idea how this fiscal year would end,” Barnett said. “So we went basic … but here we are today, thriving.”
He estimates the county’s tax base grew by $575.7 million, from $14.56 billion to $15 billion in the coming fiscal year. Sales tax revenues also were higher than expected, he said.
The county’s current tax rate is 68.91 cents per $100 valuation. It will drop to 68.41 cents per $100 if the recommended budget is approved.
Elliott said he didn’t recommend a larger property tax cut because it’s unclear if the higher revenues will continue into the coming year.
Elliott also is recommending $17 million in one-time building projects and capital projects which will be funded with the $12 million fund balance and money from other sources such as bank loans and capital reserves.
These projects include:
An administrative building for the sheriff’s office so it can consolidate its operations into one facility: $6 million.
Expanding the Department of Social Services human services center located on Government Circle: $6 million.
Vehicle replacements: $650,000.
A new mobile lab for the health department’s Smile Safari dental program: $612,000.
New permitting software for the inspections department: $375,000.
New radios for the sheriff’s office: $120,000.
Other highlights of the proposed budget are:
A total of $44.3 million for Pitt County Schools. Elliott said it’s the amount the school system requested for its current expense and capital budgets.
A total of $6.5 million for Pitt Community College, which is what it requested for its current expense and capital budgets.
Providing $16 million for the sheriff’s office, which requested $17.4 million.
Providing $17.6 million for the detention center, which requested nearly $18.3 million.
The EMS District tax rate, paid by all property owners living outside Greenville, remains at 5.95 percent. The county will implement a supplemental tier funding system which is based on the number of calls answered by a squad, in the new fiscal year.
Fire Districts. Two of the county’s 20 volunteer fire department tax districts are seeking increases this year. Belvoir is seeking a 1.25-cent increase which will raise its rate from 2.5 cents to 3.27 cents per $100 valuation. Sharp Point is seeking a 2-cent increase which will raise its rate from 6 cents to 8 cents per $100 valuation.
A 2.8 percent market adjustment pay increase for employees.
Thirty new employee positions, including 10 in social services, 6 in public health and four in EMS. A part-time position connected to the county’s new human relations council was also funded. A total of 49.5 positions were requested.