Budget talks try to lower spending, with difficulty
By MICAH HENRY
The Alexander County Commissioners and County department leaders held a budget work session on Thursday, May 18, 2023, at the County Services Center in Taylorsville, in order to decrease the size of the budget, which as proposed May 15 stood at $56,841,859. (For reference, the 2022-23 budget as approved last June was $53,653,167.)
The recent reappraisal produced a tax base of $4,027,792,409 for Alexander County. The tax levy for the current fiscal year is $21,875,830 and the growth factor since the last reappraisal is 1.43 percent. Using the formula mandated by state law, the revenue-neutral property tax rate for the county would be 56.5 cents per $100 valuation. However, the proposed property tax rate is
67 cents, down from the 2022-23 fiscal year rate of 79 cents per $100 valuation.
County commissioners and county finance staff estimate that, if no revaluation had occurred, the property tax rate would have needed to be in the 93.5 to 95 cents range this year.
About $190,000 in savings were discussed, including the delay of vehicle purchases in a few departments.
This would bring the proposed budget down to $56,651,859 and require $3,810,270 in fund balance (similar to a home owner’s savings account).
It was noted that the budget process for next year will include new budget software with a public-facing portal website, in which residents can view the budget in detail. The software is not yet ready for using the public portal for this year’s budget.
Commission Chairman Marty Pennell, who is also interim county manager, asked the group, “How do we get away from using nearly $4 million from the fund balance?”
County Finance Director Jennifer Herman replied that long-term planning needed to be done. She said that the County has not always planned ahead for the matching requirements of grants or continuing costs of grant projects.
Compliance and Procurement Specialist David Moose indicated that addressing the issue will take several years of planning and work.
Also discussed was the possibility of changing the Library days of operation, reducing county employee travel costs, delaying new hires after an employee retires, and other cost saving measures.
The next step in the budget process is a public hearing scheduled for Monday, June 5, at 6:00 p.m. at the CVCC Alexander Campus.