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Adopted Chatham County budget maintains tax rate while adding school funds

Posted Sunday, June 24, 2012

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Pittsboro, NC - On June 18, the Chatham County Board of Commissioners adopted a budget for 2012-13 that holds the property tax rate at 62.19 cents. The final budget includes funding for a two-percent increase in the supplement for teachers and teaching assistants.

"We know that teachers and teaching assistants sometimes must buy classroom supplies out of their own pockets. If nothing else, we hope this support helps offset some of these personal expenses,” said Commissioner Chairman Brian Bock.

Bock added that the adopted budget reflects good stewardship of county revenues. “We again did not use fund balance for operating expenses, but were still able to increase the county’s support of school operations by $977,123 over last year’s budget.

Bock commended departments for identifying and making cuts over the past year. “These cuts, along with sound financial planning, gave us the ability to absorb new expenses without a tax increase.”

Commissioners restored $28,500 of the proposed $45,000 reduction in the county’s appropriations for the Chatham County Economic Development Corporation (EDC), but $10,000 of the restored funding is for one-time expenses. Commissioners also added funding for a Cooperative Extension 4-H youth development assistant and Chatham Transit.

Most of the increased school funding supports increased student enrollment and helps the school system deal with the impact of state budget cuts made over the past four years. The adopted budget retained proposed funds for new school capital projects, including $304,690 to replace the roof at J.S. Water School.

Bock said, “I am pleased that the budget also allows us to take initial steps to address county employee salaries inequities. Nearly four years ago, a pay study showed that our employees were, overall, paid 15 percent below their counterparts in surrounding local governments. After four years with no salary adjustments, this budget will help us get salaries where they need to be.”

Bock added, “County employees have been called upon to work extra hard over the past four years in tough budget times. We asked more of them and they delivered. We are relieved to do something to let them know they are appreciated.”

The budget includes funding for phase one of the pay study. All employees will receive at least two percent, but some will get more depending on how far below the local average their salary was based on the study, according to County Manager Charlie Horne.

The approved budget includes funds for debt service for a future jail, six months of operations for the new Justice Center and the first phase of renovations of the Courthouse Annex building once the Justice Center opens. Commissioners have asked staff to look at other options for addressing space needs before these funds can be spent.

The budget includes several fire district tax rate changes requested by the fire departments to fund needed equipment, utilities, fuel and other expenses. The tax rates will increase in five districts and decrease in one.

Until copies of the approved budget can be finalized in a few weeks, the county manager’s recommended county budget can be found on the county website at www.chathamnc.org. Click on the Open Government tab under the homepage photos. Printed copies of the recommended budget are at the three county libraries.

 
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