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Pay hike suggested for Hertford County employees

WINTON – Hertford County local government employees are in line for a three percent raise effective July 1 pending the approval of the county’s proposed FY 2021-22 budget while the county’s tax rate remains unchanged.

County Manager David Cotton provided the details of that budget here Monday morning during a regularly scheduled meeting of the board of commissioners.

Cotton proposed a General Fund budget of $27,050,902. He said the recommended budget represents a slight increase (less than one percent) over the current year budget and does use slightly over $1.5 million in from the county’s fund balance.

“I received guidance from the commissioners, the department heads, and the finance staff to build this fiscally responsible budget in terms of revenue projections and meeting the expectations of the citizens of our county byway of the services we provide,” Cotton said at the outset of his presentation to the board.

He said over 68 percent of the county’s revenue stream comes from property tax (nearly $13 million) and state sales tax ($5.26 million). The property tax rate remains at 84 cents (per $100 of value).

As an added note to his budget presentation, Cotton emphasized the importance of the top 10 businesses in the county that combine to pay nearly one-fourth ($2.9 million) of the property tax.

Cotton stated that despite his grim forecast last year that the county’s share of state sales tax would decline due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they actually grew by six and one-half percent.

“I’m projecting they will grow again in 2022,” he said.

As an added note to his budget presentation, Cotton emphasized the importance of the top 10 businesses in the county that combine to pay nearly one-fourth ($2.9 million) of the property tax.

The lion’s share (a combined $19.9 million; 72 percent of the budget) of the proposed expenditures will go to three departments: education, public safety, and human services.

“Most all expenditures are level funding [from the current budget year],” Cotton noted.

He said health insurance for county employees increased by five percent for 2021-22 while worker’s compensation is down by 10 percent.

In addition is proposed three percent cost of living raise for the county’s local government employees, there is also a recommendation to raise the base salary of detention officers at the county jail by $1,000 annually. Cotton said that is needed to bring those salaries, “more in line with surrounding areas.”

External expenditures (for non-profit agencies) are recommended at the same level as the current budget.

For the Enterprise Fund, no increases were recommended for customers of the county’s Northern and Southern Rural Water Districts or for the Tunis Sewer District. However, due to rising costs in Solid Waste – an 11.9% increase in hauling charges and a 25.3% hike in tipping fees – Cotton is recommending a $10 increase (from $180 to $190 annually).

The commissioners are expected to adopt the 2021-22 budget at its next scheduled meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 21.

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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