DOBSON — A public hearing has been set to gather public input on next year’s $71.5 million budget.
During its meeting Monday night, the Surry County Board of Commissioners heard a presentation from County Manager Chris Knopf regarding the budget before setting a June 17 public hearing.
The hearing will get under way at 6 p.m. in the Commissioners Meeting Room of the Surry County Government Center in Dobson.
Next year’s proposed county budget calls for a two-cent hike in the county’s property tax rate, taking the rate to 60.2 cents per $1,000 in value, compared to the 2012-13 rate of 58.2 cents per $1,000 in value, Knopf told the board.
He said the additional revenue, estimated to be around $1 million, is critically needed to fund necessary infrastructure improvements like the expansion at the county’s airport, improvements to Surry Community College and repairs to county facilities that are needed for public safety.
“These are things we have to take seriously, and consider in this budget,” he said.
And the additional revenue generated by the proposed tax increase will be needed in future years as well, Knopf added.
“These capital improvements like the investment in SCC is a five-year commitment,” he said of a $2.2-million-needed renovation to the college’s utility system.
Knopf’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2013-14 totals $71,559,960, up from this year’s approved budget of $70,512,445.
Next year’s county budget proposal once again dips into the county’s general fund balance, calling for the county to use $4,981,674 of the county’s estimated $20.1 million in fund balance. This year, the county used $5,295,366 of its fund balance to avoid a property tax increase.
The county manager told the board that every department has cut its budget as much as possible.
“Many of the department’s operational expenses have been cut as far as they can be cut already,” he said. “These departments have to operate on a 12-month cycle and if further cuts are necessary, we’re going to have to make some difficult decisions on where and how to make those cuts.”
He said his proposed budget asks only to fund the departments enough to continue delivering services.
“We’re only asking for essential items,” Knopf said. “My goal was to recommend a budget that will deliver the services of the county without hardship on the departmental level, while at the same time controlling costs.”
The proposed budget calls for $1,075 in per-pupil funding, a $15 per student increase over this year.
“Overall, this represents a $169,765 increase (in per-pupil county funding for schools),” the county manager said.
In addition, the budget also allocates $4,500,000 toward school debt service, an increase of $1,47,270 over the 2012-13 year.
Knopf’s budget also allocates slightly less than $1 million ($967,000) to school capital improvements.
Prior to the June 17 public hearing, the board will meet at 6:30 p.m. on June 10 for a budget work session. That meeting will be held in Room 335 of the County Government Center.
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.