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Chatham commissioners approve new county budget with no property tax rate increase

Posted Wednesday, June 1, 2011

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Pittsboro, NC - On June 1, 2011, the Chatham County Board of Commissioners approved a county budget for 2011-12 with no increase in the property tax rate. In a 3-2 vote, the board approved the budget recommended by the County Manager’s Office, but agreed to provide some additional funding to restore two teachers at Sage Academy and to use some contingency to offset state budget cuts in teacher assistants above what was previously anticipated in the Board of Education’s budget.

The approved budget of approximately $83 million is four percent less than the budget adopted for the current year and would maintain the tax rate at the current level of 62.19 cents.

Commissioner Chairman Brian Bock said, “We have been working on this budget since the commissioners’ retreat in January, when we gave management staff specific direction on our expectations for the budget, with the goal of putting first things first. We asked for reasonable cuts, but keep core services in place.”

Bock commended the management team for delivering a recommended budget that met this goal effectively. “We appreciate the hard work involved over the past few months to work with departments and related entities to produce a budget that truly puts first things first and does not require a tax rate increase.”

Commissioner Vice Chair Walter Petty added that “the management team and departments have shown that they have used excellent judgment in making decisions about their budgets. Given the end result, the budget stood on its own merits without major revisions.”

After hearing from the school board today, the commissioners agreed to amend the budget to:

· Provide two teaching positions for Sage Academy at a cost of $110,096; and

· Provide contingency funds for some teaching assistant positions in case the adopted state budget cuts these positions beyond what was anticipated by the Board of Education’s budget.

The commissioners used $10,000 set aside to fund nonprofits to provide additional funds to Chatham Together!, a nonprofit that provides after-school programs for at-risk students, and to Family Violence & Rape Crisis Services to help offset funding cuts impacting its services. Both nonprofits had presented information at a public budget hearing clarifying these needs.

Petty noted that all commissioners had the chance to meet with the management team to go through the proposed budget and ask questions.

He added, “We also had two public hearings on the budget and received important feedback from a wide array of residents. Several of us also have used the past few months to share budget goals with residents during individual town hall meetings and other meetings with residents, seeking feedback on our plans. By far, most people that I met with were very supportive of the budget direction we were taking.”

In making the motion to approve the budget, Commissioner Pam Stewart said, “This budget continues the good stewardship that prevented us from being in a crisis situation when the recession hit. We have to maintain that solid foundation, while providing core services. We still have to survive state budget cuts that could be coming.”

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Chatham commissioners approve new county budget with no property tax rate increase

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