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Chatham Commissioners adopt a new county budget with no tax increase

Posted Wednesday, June 18, 2014

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Pittsboro, NC - On June 16, 2014, the Chatham County Board of Commissioners adopted a county budget of $94 million for 2014-15 that holds the tax rate at 62.19 cents, while providing funds for a new teacher incentive pay program that is the first of its kind in the state. The budget also funds the continuation of a high school laptop program.

Chatham County is able to fund important school needs requested by the Board of Education

“Through cautious spending over the past four years, Chatham County is in the position of being able to fund important school needs requested by the Board of Education and help get our employees’ salaries up to a more competitive level,” said County Commissioner Chairman Walter Petty.

Petty added that the budget also helps move the county closer to achieving a AAA bond rating, which is the highest possible rating. “We already have the highest bond rating for counties with a similar population size, but AAA is within reach. We thank our staff for the careful fiscal planning that puts us in such a positive position.”

Chatham County’s growth in sales tax revenues exceeded expectations

Commissioner Vice Chairman Brian Bock said, “Chatham County’s growth in sales tax revenues exceeded expectations and was considerably higher than the statewide growth in sales taxes last year. This made it possible for us to take some important steps in the budget without raising taxes. We also are seeing increases in revenues from fees related to development.”

One change the Board of Commissioners made to the budget proposed by the County Manager’s Office related to the plan to bring county employees’ salaries closer to the salaries of their counterparts in competing areas. With the revised plan, all employees with salaries below market will get a raise effective October 1 that will bring them up to market level , while employees already at market will get a 2.5 percent increase. This change was funded by reducing contingency funds and delaying implementation from July 1 to October 1.

Chairman Petty said, “After working with our employees for the past four years, we recognize that we are blessed with qualified, experienced staff. They have been below market for several years and, as the economy recovers, it is important to adequately compensate them. It is in the county’s best interest to avoid replacing experienced people, so this was an important step to take.”

The laptop program, in its fifth year, provides high school students and teachers with expanded learning opportunities outside the classroom and online progress assessments. The approved budget included funds to renew the program.

Vice Chairman Bock said that he is excited that the Board of Commissioners is supporting a groundbreaking incentive pay plan for educators. “We believe we are the first in the state to have a locally-funded incentive pay plan. The plan rewards educators and classified personnel who help students reach their student learning targets.”

Bock said that these incentives should help the school system recruit and retain teachers capable of using innovative strategies to meet the state’s targets for growth in student learning.

Other major school projects funded in the adopted budget are:

• Joint School-County Garage: A joint county and school system garage was added to the FY 2015-2021 Capital Improvement Plan with no required tax increase due to increased revenues from the school impact fee. Combining the borrowing for the $8 million garage with the $12 million Agriculture & Conference Center will help the county leverage better borrowing terms and interest rates.

• Central Carolina Works: The budget includes $25,000 in second year funding for a regional partnership involving several K-12 school systems and Central Carolina Community College. The program will place academic and career advisors in all high schools, with the goal of increasing students taking advantage of tuition-free college credit classes.

• School Facilities: The adopted budget includes funds for two other multi-year capital projects involving several schools, including a roof replacement plan and replacement and repair of paved areas.

The adopted budget includes funds for several economic development projects, a top priority of the Board of Commissioners. Petty noted, “Successful economic development projects will help ensure that we can continue to fund our budgetary needs without tax increases.”

Specific funded items include:

  • Chatham Randolph Megasite: This 1,800-acre site has been certified by the state as ready for industrial development. The budget includes additional funds for the Chatham Economic Development Corporation to develop and implement a plan to market the megasite to prospective industries.
  • Goldston Sewer System: The budget provides $181,000 to help the Town of Goldston with its sewer installation process.
  • Siler City Airport: A one-time allocation of $120,000 in matching funds will help Siler City improve its airport.
The adopted tax rates for the fire districts remain the same as last year with one exception. The commissioners approved a requested one-cent tax increase for the Siler City Fire Department to fund a full-time paid fire chief.

To see the complete proposed budget, click here. The adopted budget will be online in a few weeks.

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Chatham Commissioners adopt a new county budget with no tax increase

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