Despite county residents will see no increase in their tax rate for the 2016-17 fiscal year, Yadkin officials still anticipate property and sales tax revenues coming in more than $780,000 higher than during the 2015-16 budget year.
The Yadkin County Board of Commissioners met June 9 to hold public hearings on the proposed fiscal year budget and the economic development fund appropriation. Following the hearings, the commissioners unanimously passed the proposed budget.
Prior to the hearing, County Manager Lisa Hughes gave an overview of what the budget will look like for the next fiscal year. The final recommended budget will be $36,806,270, which is $367,997 more than the current year’s budget, and just slightly higher than what Hughes recommended during a May 16 meeting of the board.
Property tax revenues are expected to generate $19,450,636, an amount based on tax collection rates for real and personal property, Hughes explained. That amount “is still conservative,” she said.
Sales tax revenues are in the budget at $5,359,512, and the fund balance is expected to be $312,876 lower than the current year, with 16-17 being $1,874,258.
For expenses in the coming fiscal year, Hughes said the proposed budget would provide $6,467,145 to Yadkin County Schools and $228,688 to Surry Community College. But she also said they expect to see cost savings due to recent allocations of funding which provided for changing out the lights being used to energy-efficient lights in county and school facilities.
There will be some changes in personnel as well for the year, Hughes said. The budget funds six full-time paramedics on 12-hour shifts, fully funds a maintenance position which was only funded for three months during the current budget year and shifts which departments a couple of other positions are being paid out of.
The budget also eliminates a vacant planner position; a temporary position in the license plate agency; two part-time processing assistant positions, one of which is vacant, who were handling hospital records requests and are no longer needed; and a vacant site attendant position.
Health insurance costs will remain flat, Hughes reported, while life insurance will increase to $25,000. The county also will open the health clinic for employees three days a week.
Vehicle replacements for the year will include six sheriff’s office cars, two ambulances and an environmental health vehicle.
While 2016-17 will be the last year of debt for QZAB loans on school construction projects, which had cost $178,000 a year, the 2017-18 year will be the first debt service payment for the East Bend water line project which is taking place now.
In other budget highlights, Hughes said there will be no changes to the fire tax rates paid by county property owners in the coming year. Also, this year no money transfer will be needed from the general fund to the water and sewer fund to make it balance.
Some other expenses will include phase two of the school light changes, life pack purchases for EMS, the replacement of 25 desktop computers in human services, the operations for the new agriculture and education building on the Yadkin Center campus of Surry Community College, and performance increases for personnel as determined by department heads.
Once the public hearing opened, Marty Driver with Mountain Valley Hospice & Palliative Care, who has been helping lead the fundraising efforts for the new hospice home being constructed in Yadkinville, made a plea with the county commissioners to reconsider its decision not to appropriate any funding to the project.
She explained that at least three other municipalities in Yadkin County had pledged financial support for the project spread out over the next few years. The hospice group is about $300,000 short of meeting its challenge grant goal to be able to fulfill the amount needed for the entire project, Driver said.
Other speakers included Yadkin County Schools Superintendent Dr. Todd Martin, Economic Development Council Executive Director Bobby Todd and Wayne Matthews with Surry Community College who all thanked the commissioners for their support of their agencies.
Future in the eyes of commissioners
As the commissioners discussed the final proposed budget prior to any votes, they all commented on their concerns for next year’s budget as it will be a year for property revaluation. They pointed out seeing other areas’ property values decreasing, which may force a need for an increase in taxes to keep their current level of funding neutral if that occurs.
“For David (Moxley, commissioner) and I, this is our eighth budget,” said Commissioner Kevin Austin, chairman of the board of commissioners. “We’ve cut the tax rate three times and held it flat other years. That brings a lot of joy in my heart.
“Lisa’s done a lot of work on the budget so we can weather our upcoming revaluation, most property values have dropped,” he said. “We are hopeful next year we won’t have an increase due to the work Lisa’s done this year.”
Commissioner Frank Zachary said he’s been seeing a lot of properties pass hands at “considerable lower than tax value,” but “there has been an increase in construction going on so that’s a positive.”
“I wish there was a way to give a little bit to the hospice home, maybe we can later. It’s going to be difficult next year,” said Commissioner Marion Welborn.
“One thing that encouraged me is the increased property tax estimate,” Austin added. “Steady, controlled growth is what we like to see in Yadkin County.”
Following a motion for approval from Zachary and a second from Moxley, the commissioners unanimously passed the budget for 2016-17 fiscal year.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.