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Gates County budget proposed

GATESVILLE – Two weeks into his new job, Gates County Manager Tim Wilson has proposed an operating budget that includes no increase to property taxes; adds two full-time positions to the county’s local government workforce, and gives them all a four percent raise to boot.

For FY 2021-22, Wilson is proposing a $17,028,218 budget, of which is $12,665,218 is the General Fund. The latter amount is $366,211 higher than the current year budget.

“It is my budget; I take ownership of it, but I wish to recognize all the people ahead of me that did a lot of hard work putting this budget together,” Wilson told the county commissioners at their regularly scheduled meeting on May 19. “I thank [Gates County Finance Director] Kim Outland for the time she spent with me, bringing me up to speed on this budget. It’s a sound budget.”

Wilson went over a few of the highlights of the proposed budget. He said there were no increases in fees or monies from the county’s fund balance used to balance the financial spreadsheet. The existing property tax rate (79 cents per $100 of value) remains unchanged.

Staffing recommendations include adding one new full-time position to the Finance Department and converting one part-time dispatcher position to a full-time position in Emergency Management. He also recommends budgeting $1,000 for part-time help in the Register of Deeds office.

Wilson has added a contingency fund line item to the Governing Body’s portion of the budget in the amount of $60,060. This funding, he said, is proposed to conduct an organization staffing and compensation study, and for an organizational technology study.

“I realize there was a study conducted in 2017 that looked at salaries and job descriptions as well,” Wilson noted. “I believe enough time has passed that a new study is order. I think just as importantly as the compensation and the benefits of the job description, what needs to go along with that is organizational staffing needs.”

As to the need for the technology study, Wilson said, “Right now we have departments operating under different systems. One system may not communicate with another system. I think it’s time that the county take a look at a central system, a shared drive for all departments for access to accomplish its work.”

Wilson’s budget proposal will, as expected, draw the lion’s share of its revenue from property taxes (an expected $6,664,691) and from state sales tax ($2,735,000). An additional $653,199 of expected revenue will come from local taxes on motor vehicles. Nearly $1 million ($998,326) will flow into the county’s coffers from the federal and state levels for DSS.

On the expenditure side of the budget, Gates County Public Schools ($3,083,000), Gates County Department of Social Services ($1,673,128), the Gates County Sheriff’s Office ($1,065,017), and the Gates County Rescue Squad ($812,000) are the top four benefactors of tax money in the budget proposal.

The budget also sets aside $1,224,074 to cover the county’s debt service payments on several loans.

The county’s Enterprise Fund proposes $1,181,000 in proposed expenditures for the Water Department, $81,200 for Sewer services, and $1,052,985 for Solid Waste.

The commissioners have scheduled a budget work session on May 26. A public hearing for the proposed FY 2021-22 budget is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 16 at the county’s Historic Courthouse.

Once approved, the new budget becomes effective July 1.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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