Tax rate unchanged in county budget proposal

By on April 19, 2011

Dare County would not raise taxes and spend less than one percent more next year under a proposed budget unveiled Monday.

County Manager Bobby Outten said his spending plan would keep the tax rate at 28 cents per $100 of value.

“We’re still in a difficult economy, but it’s improving slightly,” Outten told the Board of Commissioners.

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Outten said the current budget anticipated problems that could have affected the budget that he is proposing for the fiscal year that starts in July.

As a result, there are no major surprises in the $99.6 million package, which represents an increase of 0.38 percent over the current year’s spending. The current budget had included a tax hike of 2 cents.

The proposed budget projects growth in property tax revenue of .98 percent and occupancy and sales tax revenues increasing by 3 percent each.

Requests for additional money amounted to $2.27 million, but Outten denied most of them for an overall spending increase of $374,391. The bulk of the new spending represented items that were required or could no longer be put off, Outten said.

The biggest new expense was $65,096 for siding at the Fessenden Center in Buxton and windows at the Head Start Center in Manteo.

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Another $55,000 is needed for maintenance on the EMS helicopter. That could increase by $81,000 because of a mandate from the Federal Aviation Administration to replace turbines sooner than expected. Outten said he was not sure yet where that money would come from.

The budget includes 14 new cars for the Sheriff’s Office and three new ambulances. They will be financed over time, so the total costs will not be absorbed in next fiscal year’s budget.

Because commissioners wanted no tax increases this year, Outten did not include a half cent requested by the Frisco fire district.

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Employees will pay another one percent toward their health insurance premiums, totaling 14 percent. That is part of a plan to increase their share 1 percent a year until it reaches 15 percent.

Outten project that the undesignated fund balance — basically the county’s saving account — will have increased by a little more than $1 million to stand at about $16 million by June 30, the end of the current fiscal year.

It would put the undesignated fund balance at 17.2 percent, which is slightly less than the county’s goal of keeping it at 18 to 20 percent. While that is higher than the state requires, a larger fund balance can help ensure better bond rates.

The board will hold a public hearing on the budget at 10 a.m. May 2. A workshop will follow that day’s meeting.

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