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Posted Friday, June 13, 2014
Pittsboro, NC - We passed the 2014-2015 budget on Tuesday night, May 20. The theme of this year’s budget is ‘Working together is success”. By working together with our departments, the school administration, the Sheriff’s department, the Community College, and others we were able to fund the county’s priorities without an increase in the property tax rate for the 4th consecutive budget year.
Helping make that possible is an economic recovery better than the State or national average. Our unemployment rate is consistently lower than the state average. Our sales tax revenue is growing at almost double the statewide rate. Companies have invested another $100 million in new capital in Chatham already this year. The rating agencies recently affirmed our AA+ bond rating with Moody’s giving us a favorable outlook that could lead to an upgrade in the near future.
The revenue generated by these trends has allowed us to fund our joint priorities with the school board, including; the one-to-one laptop program for the county’s high schools and funding a teacher incentive pay program. Chatham County will be the first in the State to have a locally funded incentive program like this. We were able to fund another unique educational program known as Carolina Works. This program will give every HS student the opportunity to earn a career technical certification or 2 years of college credit while in HS at no cost to the student.
These two programs address some of the most pressing concerns we have in the county. The incentive program is one more step in our on-going efforts to pay our teachers more and keep them in Chatham County. We value the work that they are doing on a daily basis and we want them to know it. Carolina Works will ensure that we have a trained workforce to take advantage of new industries that we are working to recruit. It will also help us improve the graduation rate. Too many of our students, especially lower income and minority students are not graduating on time or at all. This program will not only give them a reason to stay in school but will allow them to walk off the graduation stage and into a high wage job immediately. Drop out rates, unemployment, and poverty rates will be affected positively by this program.
Funding has been provided to facilitate the planning and environmental quality departments to continue work with the NC floodplain mapping. The soil and water conservation district will continue nutrient management inventory and evaluation to improve and protect surface and groundwater.
The budget continues our commitment to public safety. Our 911 emergency communications staff is working to improve emergency medical dispatch and emergency fire dispatch protocols to be able to administer assistance to citizens before emergency response units arrive.
These are just a few of the highlights in the 200 page $94 million budget. You can view the entire document on the county website. As you read through the budget you’ll see how we are “a county that works”.
Please visit my website to read updates on other initiatives.
Brian Bock is a Chatham County Commissioner.
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