Commissioners receive recommended 2018-19 fiscal year budget

Caswell County Manager Bryan Miller presented to the County Commissioners the proposed 2018-19 fiscal year budget at the Commissioners' May 7 meeting at the Old Courthouse in downtown Yanceyville. This year's proposed budget of $20,077,669 marks a 12 percent decrease from fiscal year 2017-18. 

At the Caswell County Commissioners’ May 7 session, County Manager Bryan Miller presented a proposed 2018-19 fiscal year budget for Caswell County to the elected officials. 
 
The deadline for presentation of the budget message is June 1 each calendar year. A copy of the budget and budget message has been filed at the Office of the Clerk of the Commissioners, where it remains for public inspection until the Commissioners pass a budget ordinance. 
 
The Caswell County Commissioners will hold a public hearing for the budget at its June 4 meeting. This interim period provides the general public an opportunity to learn more about the proposed budget. In the meanwhile, the Commissioners will hold a series of budget meetings. Changes may be made in the weeks leading up to the passing of the budget ordinance. The budget meetings will be held until the adoption of a budget by the elected officials.
 
The Commissioners are expected to pass a budget by its June 18 session, but could pass a budget earlier. 
 
Miller broke down the numbers in detail, explaining how Caswell County will allocate its funds over the next year. 
 
“The purpose of this budget is to provide the county with a fiscally-responsible plan,” Miller said. “The formal budget development process aims to ensure that the county’s financial strength and integrity is maintained. The recommended budget takes into account two primary concerns expressed by the County Commissioners regarding their budget priorities. One - balance the budget for fiscal year 2018-19. And two, do not add economic stress to the citizens of Caswell County, and the businesses.” 
 
When the Commissioners met on January 10, the elected officials expressed the wish to present a streamlined budget without the use of fund balance proceeds, or a tax increase.
 
Miller explained that when the Commissioners began the budget review process in March, the general fund was $2.750,580 out of balance. After a close review of all revenues and expenditures, the county found the means to balance the budget by various expenditure decreases. 
 
Caswell County is recommending a General Fund budget of $20,077,669 for 2018-19, which represents a 12 percent decrease from fiscal year 2017-18. 
Property tax revenues are the primary source of governmental funding revenue in Caswell County, providing 52 percent of the General Fund revenue.
 
County officials are projecting a 4.5 percent decrease in property tax revenues compared to last year’s budget. The total taxable property value for Caswell County for 2018-19 is estimated to be $1,502,439,289, and is comprised of real and personal values of $1,634,459,570. Utilities are set at $110,649,891. 
 
This year’s Caswell County recommended budget includes an ad valorem tax rate of 70.9 cents per $100 dollars of assessed property value - a rate equal to the prior year, in accordance with the North Carolina Local Budget and Fiscal Control Act. One penny on the current tax rate in Caswell County generates $150,244 in revenue. 
 
A portion of all sales tax revenue countywide is restricted by general statute specifically for capital needs for schools. These monies are placed into a reserve fund designated for approved purposes. The remaining sales tax revenue is unrestricted, and represents a significant source of discretionary funding for Caswell County. 
 
The state’s sales tax rate is 4.75 percent, while the local sales tax rate is 2.75 percent, for a total of 7.5 percent. Revenue expected from sales tax in Caswell County for fiscal year 2018-19 totals $4,075,659. $2,229,834 of that revenue is unrestricted, while $1,845,825 is restricted. 
Public health is projecting an increase of 9 percent - approximately $142,690 in revenues. 
 
“No use of fund balance is included in the fiscal year 2018-19 recommended budget,” Miller said. “This budget represents a $426,803 decrease from the fiscal year 2017-18 adopted budget.” 
 
No new job positions are projected to be added across Caswell County in the recommended 2018-19 budget. All new position requests will be evaluated in budget review meetings and briefings, to be held over the next month. 
 
Three new positions had been requested by Caswell County department leaders - an administrative position within the county’s environmental health staff, one additional building code enforcement employee, and the addition of a maintenance supervisor. 
 
The Caswell County Sheriff’s Department request of 10 new patrol cars was not included in the budget, but will be under review in the upcoming budget evaluation meetings. A request for new elections equipment was also not included, but will be evaluated as well. Salaries for Caswell County employees will not be adjusted according to the recommended budget. Any salary adjustment requests will be evaluated during the budget review meetings.
 
Capital items included in the recommended budget total about $50,000. All other major capital requests will be held in the budget evaluation sessions.  
Miller explained to the County Commissioners that Caswell County faces significant additional expenses due to employee and retirement health insurance premium increases of approximately 7.3 percent year-over-year, or $124,611. The county was originally quoted an increase of 23 percent, but was able to reduce the amount of risk associated with the county’s business. 
 
The Caswell County Board of Education requested a 31 percent increase from last year’s budget - approximately $1.505,722. This request was not included in the recommended budget. Teacher supplement increases were also struck from the recommended budget. Piedmont Community College increased their requested allocation by 24.9 percent, or $122,786 dollars. That requested increase was not included in the budget, to meet the directives set by the Board of Commissioners. 
 
Fire service rates for Caswell County remains at 3.69 cents per 100 dollars of assessed property value. The rate for the Caswell Fire Service also remains at 3.69 cents per 100 dollars of assessed value. The first payment of $99,524 for the expansion of the Gunn Memorial Public Library, located at 161 Main Street in Yanceyville, is included in the recommended budget. 
 
“The outlook for the fiscal year 2018-19 is once again one of stablization,” Miller told the elected officials. “Therefore, it is imperative that we continue to identify and evaluate alternative ways of doing business that will result in cost reductions, while maintaining service levels, as well as searching for revenue enhancement opportunities other than property tax revenues.” 
 
“I look forward to working with the Board to develop a final budget for fiscal year 2018-19 that will meet the service needs and expectations of everyone we serve.”