Last updated: June 07. 2014 4:53PM - 332 Views
By Keith Strange kstrange@civitasmedia.com

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DOBSON — The Surry County Board of Commissioners will gather Monday night to mull next year’s proposed $74 million budget.

Next year’s budget, as proposed by county administrators, totals $74,707,941, a considerable increase from the current budget of $71,458,974.

It recommends that county maintain its current 58.2 cents per $100 in property value tax rate.

Board Chairman Eddie Harris said Friday that the board was pleased overall with the budget as presented by the county, but wanted to schedule a work session to give it a closer look.

“We’re quite satisfied with the county manager’s recommended budget,” Harris said. “I think he took a fair and balanced look at our financial situation and created a budget to meet those needs. We’re going to get together in our budget workshop to determine whether there are any necessary changes.”

County Manager Chris Knopf attributed the nearly $3 million increase in his proposed budget to a balloon payment on a loan that will be due next year.

“We’ll have a payment on a $2.2 million loan we took out in 2001 for improvements to Tharrington and Copeland elementary schools,” he said. “That payment will be due in June, so that accounts for a large part of the increase.”

County officials plan to repay the loan out of existing fund balance, where money to repay it has been sitting for years accruing interest.

The loan payment is also largely responsible for an increased fund balance allocation proposed in next year’s budget. Rather than raise taxes, the county is proposing to appropriate $7,575,748 out of its fund balance of $25.8 million. This year, the county allocated around $5.5 million from its unrestricted fund balance.

According to Knopf, subtracting the loan repayment means the county is allocating nearly the same amount this year.

“With the $2.2 million coming out of fund balance, that makes the appropriation much larger than last year, but if you take that out the appropriation is nearly the same,” Knopf said, noting that this year the county appropriated $5,570,459 out of fund balance, money that county officials believe went largely unspent.

The county’s proposed budget also recommends keeping the per-pupil allocation to the county’s three school district steady at the current $1,075 per student, s maintaining the $50 per-student capital outlay allocation and the $40 per-student technology outlay.

“We want to take care of our schools as much as we can, but in a nutshell these budgets are driven by capital needs and how much we can address in a given year,” Knopf said.

Knopf’s budget proposal also includes an allocation of $1,918,275 to address roofing needs at Elkin Elementary, Tharrington Primary, North Surry High and Flat Rock Elementary schools, and an allocation of $440,000 to continue a project to replace HVAC equipment on the main campus of Surry Community College.

He also recommends an allocation of $546,856 to fund two replacement ambulances, a light rescue vehicle, four new patrol cars for middle school resource officers, five patrol car replacement, an emergency transfer vehicle and cameras for patrol cars in the county.

The work session will get under way at 6:30 p.m., in Room 335 of the County Government Center in Dobson.

Keith Strange can be reached at 336-719-1929 or via Twitter @strangereporter.

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