Chatham County Commissioners Approve FY18 Budget with Some Revisions
On June 19, 2017, the Chatham County Board of Commissioners approved a revised budget for fiscal year 2017-18 that keeps the tax rate of $0.6281 (or 62.81 cents) recommended by the County Manager’s Office. However, additional revenues identified since early May allowed a few more items to be included in the approved budget.
NOTE: The final tax is a slight decrease 0.57 cents from the previous year's tax rate of 63.38 cents (or $0.6338).. The decrease is mostly due to revaluation of property, effective January 1, 2017.
Most of the new revenue is related to the appeals process for the 2017 revaluation of real property. The county had fewer valuations adjusted due to appeals than had been conservatively estimated. This provided an additional $595,237. The total general fund budget approved is $110.9 million.
“The budget reflects the Board's goals and Chatham's values,” said Commissioner Chairman Jim Crawford. “I am especially pleased that we could hire a veterans’ services officer. Our staff, especially Lisa West, show great skill in reporting the county's needs and seeking affordable, but effective, solutions. The quality of this work allows commissioners to deliberate fully and reach consensus.”
Commissioner Vice Chair Diana Hales said, “We achieved a budget that realistically grows county services while slightly decreasing the tax rate. It also maintains our commitment to protect our water resources, even as our population grows. I am very pleased that the budget includes the development of a master utilities plan for Chatham in collaboration with our towns.”
Hales added that the budget “reflects our values and financial commitments to education, public safety, protection of water resources, provision of social services, and affordable housing. We look forward to completion of the Comprehensive Plan, which will establish guideposts to inform our budget decisions as we map our future.”
The adopted FY18 budget includes a $450,000 appropriation for the Town of Pittsboro. The funds will help the town buy land in downtown Pittsboro for a future town hall complex, where the county is considering renting office space. The county’s financial contribution is expected to be offset by future reductions in the county’s rental lease. If the county does not end up leasing space in the facility, the town would have to refund the $450,000.
Other priority items added to the approved budget due to the new growth in revenues include:
- An additional school resource officer will be hired by the Sheriff’s Office to serve Northwood High School, which now has 1,400 students and continues grow. This officer will be hired now and moved to the new high school once it opens. $70,769.
- A school health and wellness instructional facilitator for Chatham County Schools will focus on prevention efforts related to such issues as physical inactivity, obesity, alcohol and drug abuse, bullying, tobacco use and other issues. This position will be hired by Chatham County Schools through a contract with the Public Health Department. $80,000.
- A part-time veterans’ services officer will be hired in the fall of 2017. The state has continued make deep cuts in the budget for veterans’ services offices, even though the percentage of veterans needing services has increased by 18% since 2010. As a result, most counties have hired someone part-time to do this work. $18,742.
- The County Manager’s Office will hire a budget analyst to assist with the budget development process, which is an increasingly complex, year-long process. $83,723.
- Chatham 360 will add a part-time person to introduce a misdemeanor diversion program. Court officials have advocated for this program, which would allow young, first-time misdemeanants to avoid having criminal charges and arrests on their records, but only if they successfully complete this program. $28,611.
- Facilities Management will hire a construction project manager in the fall to provide better management and tracking of small maintenance and repair projects for existing facilities. $54,768.
- All county Boards of Elections likely will have to add an additional member, unless the state courts take action. Funding covers state-mandated expenses of board members. $5,124.
Residents can find the full proposed budget on the Chatham County website at: www.chathamnc.org/budget. The approved budget should be posted there by July 12, 2017.