Monday August 26, 2019

School needs drive decision for 2-cent tax increase

Cabarrus County Board of Commissioners on Monday approved the fiscal year 2020 (FY20) general fund budget, which includes a 2-cent increase over the current rate of 72 cents per $100 of assessed property value. For owners of a $160,000 house (the median assessed home value in Cabarrus), that equates to an additional $32 a year in property tax.

An ad valorem tax rate of 74 cents increases the general operating budget to $275,790,534—a 7.89 percent increase in spending from the adopted FY19 budget.

Outside the general fund, the County is responsible for the administration of the following: Cabarrus Arena and Events Center Fund, Landfill Property Fund, 911 Emergency Telephone Fund and Health Insurance Fund. The grand total of all funds is $293,538,179.

Projections indicate ad valorem (property) tax revenues will increase by $12,405,382, or 7.6 percent over the FY19 adopted budget. Sales tax revenue is expected to increase by $4,478,539, or 9.7 percent, in FY20 over the FY19 adopted budget.

Nearly half (47 percent) of the general fund budget will go to support schools.

In FY20, the tax increase will put $4.7 million toward addressing a portion of one-time project needs that total more than $161 million. This includes deferred building maintenance needs for Cabarrus County and Kannapolis City school districts, and the County. The additional tax revenue will also fund projects such as security camera upgrades at school facilities, roof replacements at County and school buildings, and land banking efforts for future school and County facilities.

In future years, the increase will support ongoing operations of two schools scheduled to open in FY21.

County leaders also increased local teacher supplements by 1/2 percent for Cabarrus County and Kannapolis City school districts, an additional recurring investment of more than $800,000.

“Because of our continued growth, budgeting to meet the increasing capital and operational needs of our school systems while also addressing County facility and services needs has become very challenging,” said County Manager Mike Downs. “Construction projects, including schools, the downtown Concord parking deck and the new courthouse put a strain on the budget. This limits our ability to fund capital needs of parks, senior centers and libraries. All of these projects are vital to meeting the expectations of a growing and prosperous community.”

The finalized FY20 budget highlights include:

Education and Capital Needs

  • Funding for an additional $1,478,700 in debt service for the County to purchase land for a new high school and middle school for Cabarrus County Schools, and for a new Cabarrus County library/senior center.
  • $2.5 million in increased total funding for Cabarrus County and Kannapolis City school districts, from $124,506,404 in the FY19 adopted budget to $127,089,114 in the FY20 adopted budget. This includes education debt service payment and current expense funding for utilities, charter schools, non-certified positions, building and grounds maintenance, and technology systems.
  • $472,000 for increased operational costs and energy and commodity inflation at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s new Advanced Technology Center, which focuses on applied technical training.
  • Two additional school nurse positions: one part-time at Kannapolis Middle School and one at the Early College and Performance Learning Center.

County Workforce

  • To keep up with the demands of our growing community, the County will add 23 total positions in the high-need areas of public safety: 11 (six in Fire Services and five in the Sheriff’s Office); Human Services: seven; Active Living and Parks: three; Facilities and building maintenance: one; and general government: one (County Manager’s Office).
  • Inclusion of $225,000 to fund the recommendations of a salary study that evaluated general government service area pay scales. The departments studied include Active Living and Parks, Board of Commissioners, Board of Elections, Communications & Outreach, County Manager, Fair, Finance, Human Resources, Information Technology Services, Library, Planning and Development, Register of Deeds, Tax, and Veteran Services.
  • Funding of a 1.5 percent market adjustment for all County employees.

County Manager Downs presented his proposed budget on May 20. The Cabarrus County Board of Commissioners held special budget work sessions in May to discuss details of the proposed budget with management and outside agencies funded from the County budget. Those discussions and related budget updates concluded at the board work session on June 3. Video of each session is available at www.youtube.com/cabarruscounty.

At the May 23 work session, commissioners received proposals for tax increases from the Flowe’s Store, Midland and Mt. Pleasant Rural fire districts. Only property owners within the respective fire district are required to pay the fire tax. After a public hearing and discussion on June 17, commissioners approved a:

  • 1-cent increase to taxes for the Flowe’s Store Fire District
  • 2-cent increase to taxes for the Midland Fire District
  • 1.5-cent increase to the Mt. Pleasant Rural Fire District

To help educate the community on the proposed budget, the County offered a free interactive course for residents on June 14 and led public discussions on its social media channels. Public outreach continued with a public hearing before the vote on June 17.‍

Follow all the latest FY20 budget news at www.cabarruscounty.us/budget.

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