Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer
Macon County manager Derek Roland presented his 2021-22 budget proposal to county leaders last Tuesday night during the monthly meeting of the Macon County Board of Commissioners. Roland’s proposed budget keeps the county’s tax rate of .374 flat and totals $54,641,096.
“FY ’22 Expenditures will increase by $2,338,651 or 4.5% over the FY ’21 original budget to $54,641,096,” said Roland. “At the proposed level of expenditures, we will accomplish the primary goals as established by the Macon County Board of Commissioners at the commencement of the FY ’22 budget process. The goals included maintaining the current high level of service, identifying and addressing compensation issues within the organization and maintaining our solid financial position without increasing the ad-valorem tax rate.”
County employee salaries
Roland proposed setting aside $1,232,183 in FY ’22 non-departmental expenditures to be used to implement recommendations from the classification and compensation study following its completion in late summer of ’21.
“While exact cost of implementation is unknown at this time, it is important to note that a 7% increase to salaries and fringes within the current FY ’22 operating budget amounts to $1,459,701
or $227,518 above the earmarked amount,” said Roland. “Addressing this increasingly urgent situation was the primary goal established by the Macon County Board of Commissioners for the FY ’22 budget.”
School System Funding
Local funding for Macon County School System operations and teacher supplement remained at $8,732,731 in Roland’s proposed budget.
“While this level of funding is consistent with the prior fiscal year, a projected decrease in Average Daily Membership of 34 students to 4,454 in FY ’22 will increase local current expense funding per ADM from $1,946 in FY ’21 to $1,961 in FY ’22,” said Roland. “The proposed funding level for school system current expense is above the FY ’21 state average ($1,958/ADM) as well as the FY ’21 regional average ($1,641/ADM) NCACC Budget and Tax Survey 2021. Since FY ’18, funding for current expense and teacher supplement has increased by $1,115,000 or 14.6 percent. Revenue to sustain this increase was generated through a $.018 increase to the ad-valorem tax rate in FY ’20.”
Capital expenditures within the operating budget are defined as those expenditures that exceed $5,000 and have a useful life of greater than one year. In FY ’22 capital expenditures will account for $2,882,542
or 5.3% of the General Fund Budget. This is an increase of $726,184 over the current fiscal year original budget.
Of the FY ’22 recommended $2,882,542 in capital spending, $505,348 is representative of grant-funded expenditures and $1,150,000 will be set aside for Macon County School’s annual technology and capital
needs. The remaining $1,227,194 in capital expenditures will go towards funding capital needs within the organization.
The Public Safety Function includes Sheriff, Courthouse Security, Forest Service, Jail, Inspections/Planning, Emergency Medical Services, Emergency Management and Animal Control. In the coming year, public safety represents $14,976,835 or 27% of the general fund budget. This is an increase of $800,931 or 5.6% over the FY ’21 original budget amount.
The Culture/Recreation budget function accounts for recreation, Highlands recreation, and libraries. In the coming year, Culture/Recreation represents $2,834,643 or 5% of the general fund operating budget which is a $199,996 increase over the current fiscal year original budget. The increase is primarily attributable to an increase in capital expenditures of $127,500 to Highlands Recreation to assistance the
Town of Highlands with lighting replacement at the Highlands ballfield and $29,000 in Recreation for the purchase of a new vehicle.
Operational funding for Macon County libraries will remain at $1,019,390. At approximately 2% of its operating budget, Roland said that Macon County will continue to place priority on our local libraries.
“The FY ’21-22 budget will allow us to continue providing high quality public services to the citizens of Macon County at the third lowest tax rate in the state,” said Roland. “Improving economic conditions combined with gained efficiencies in the operating budget will enable us to restore capital funding to prior year levels while addressing lingering compensation issues within the organization. The budget as proposed
accomplishes each of these things without compromise to our solid financial position or long-standing commitment to public education.”