Iredell commissioners take deeper dive into $222.6 million budget
BY KARISSA MILLER
The proposed Iredell County budget for 2019-2020 maintains the county’s property tax rate of 52.75 cents per $100 valuation.
But that does not mean taxes are not going up for most property owners. The general rise in property values as a result of the countywide revaluation process means taxpayers will contribute $10.3 million more to county coffers.
The spending plan proposed by County Manager Beth Jones calls for $222.6 million in spending to support county services. Factoring in new construction, the county will see an increase of 10.81 percent in property tax revenue.
A public hearing on the budget is set for June 4 at 7 p.m. during the commissioners’ regular meeting.
Iredell commissioners discussed the budget for the upcoming fiscal year and some of the county manager’s recommendations during a work session earlier this week.
Jones gave a general overview of the state of the county’s finances before offering details on some of the big ticket items the commissioners will have to decide on in the coming weeks.
County employees’ salaries and benefits expenditures account for 34-percent of the general fund, and are set to see an increase of $4.7 million in the proposed budget. There are a number of factors that contribute to the 6.6-percent increase, the largest item being $2.02 million set aside for new positions.
The budget includes funding for a total of 23 new positions, including a day porter, one grounds technician, one carpenter, seven school resource officers, vet technician and more. Some of the positions funded will also be partially funded by the State of North Carolina.
Jones said the list of approved employee positions was pared down from requests made by department heads. Overall, there were more than $8 million in recommended cuts from the original budget request.
The spending plan also includes $2 million for two different types of employee raises. The first component is an up to 3-percent merit raise for county employees. The second is a pay scale adjustment of 3-percent to help retain employees.
Chairman James Mallory asked for Jones to compile an analysis of why employees are leaving for the board.
Commissioners reviewed the details of the capital requests from each department. The capital requests totaled $7.5 million.
The list identified $635,924 in cuts. Among the notable cuts was a smoke alarm mascot for the Fire Marshal’s Office, a bicycle for Emergency Specialty Services and two in-car cameras for the jail.
Several departments received approval to purchase new trucks or vehicles to add to their fleet.
The Sheriff’s Office will add 26 marked patrol cars at a cost of $858,300 and three unmarked patrol cars for another $94,200.
Another item that got the commissioners’ attention was the recommendation for purchasing a Slushie machine. Jones explained the county’s Park and Recreation Department has requested to purchase a $3,000 Slushie machine for its pool concession.
Next budget work session set for Monday
The next budget work session is Monday, May 13, at Iredell County Government Center, 200 S. Center Street, Statesville. Commissioners will continue to delve deeper into the budget from 8 a.m. until noon.