County maintains current tax rate

After a turbulent budget season that saw Sampson County face a potential 5-cent tax hike for the 2022-23 fiscal year, a no-tax hike budget was finally passed Thursday by the County Board of Commissioners. Samson County. The plan boosted several departments, but reduced some initially proposed increases and opted out of setting aside funds usually placed annually in reserve accounts.

The board maintained a tax rate of 82.5 cents per $100 of assessment for the 2022-23 budget. The rate is based on an estimated recovery rate of 97% and an estimated total valuation of over $5.1 billion. There is also a tax rate of 14.5 cents per $100 of assessment of property located in the Clinton School District for the purpose of supplementing the income of the city school district.

The enacted 2022-23 general fund is $70,967,339, 2.8% more than the county’s enacted 2021-2022 budget of $69,033,990. The total proposed budget and ongoing projects is nearly $170 million.

Last month, the council presented a draft budget that included a 5-cent tax hike, but the council said no such increase would be planned. In a brief budget deliberation last week, the board unanimously ordered county staff to remove millions from the 2022-23 proposal, including reserve accounts, departmental budgets and allocations. spending, in order to balance the budget at no additional cost to taxpayers.

At that time, the council instructed staff to prepare a budget ordinance, which was passed on Thursday.

In a budget message delivered last month, County Executive Ed Causey said a decline in population has translated into a shrinking tax base and lower projected revenue, which, combined with inflation and supply chain issues affecting everyone, necessitated a proposed 5 cent tax hike in 2022. -23 budget to maintain services and “prevent history from repeating itself”.

“We don’t believe we can further reduce projected costs without hurting programs,” Causey previously said in his budget message. “…We don’t need to go back to where the county was 20 years ago with overwhelming pent-up needs that degrade our current financial situation. Pent-up needs include both physical and human infrastructure.

“If you get by this year without a tax increase, it’s unlikely you can get by next year without a tax increase,” Causey said in the post.

County council members said the tax increase would not come in 2022-23. A motion to that effect, along with an outline of the overall cuts, was put forward by Chair Sue Lee last month, seconded by Commissioner Clark Wooten and approved unanimously.

Lee introduced a motion to eliminate all tax increases — both the county’s ad valorem tax and the fire department’s district taxes — as originally proposed in the May 23 budget. As part of the motion, she also called for a plethora of measures to be taken to reduce the proposed budget.

Were eliminated from the proposed budget:

• $450,000 for the county construction reserve account.

• $112,500 for the City of Clinton Schools Construction Reserve Account

• $225,000 for the Sampson County Schools Construction Reserve Account

• $112,500 for the Sampson Community College building reserve account

• $250,000 for the Economic Development Reserve Account

• $122,000 for the revaluation reserve account

In addition, the current expense allowances offered to Sampson County schools and Clinton City schools have been reduced to $1,273 per student (a reduction of $77,787 for Clinton City schools and $209 $439 for Sampson County Schools, as proposed). However, the amount of funding per student is actually an increase from $1,239 in 2021-22.

The current proposed spending allowance at Sampson Community College has also been reduced by $32,412 and a proposed $250,000 capital spending allowance for the college has been eliminated.

Finally, as part of the budget directive unanimously approved by council last week, proposed allocations to county departmental budgets have been removed as follows:

• $18,172 from the animal shelter budget for the replacement of cat cages

• $5,539 from the Department of Veterans Affairs for the Veterans Action Event

• $72,000 from the cooperative’s extension budget for contracted beaver management services

• $76,000 reduction in the county’s contribution to the aging budget

• $25,000 from recreation budget for part-time/marginal salaries

• $16,207 from the recreation budget for a bunker rake

• $10,000 from recreation budget for maintenance entrance

• $60,000 from the detention center budget for mezzanine fencing

• $111,577 from the human resources budget for contracts/services, including the amount budgeted for the salary market study

• $30,000 administration budget for website upgrades

• $69,288 from the EM budget for an EMS Deputy Chief of Operations

• $69,299 from the sheriff’s budget for a juvenile investigator

A salary market study will be deferred until the board determines that there are funds available to complete the study and implement its findings, and the board has requested that the restricted fund balance be increased by $85,755. $.

The council also voted unanimously to freeze the hiring of any new positions.

Editor Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 2587.