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Commissioners approve 2-cent tax increase to support school needs

 

Cabarrus County Board of Commissioners approved the fiscal year 2019 (FY19) budget on Monday night, which includes a 2-cent increase on the current tax of 70 cents. The budget year runs from July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019.

The increase means the owner of a $160,000 home (the median assessed home value in Cabarrus County) will pay an additional $32 per year in property tax.

The balanced budget includes a General Fund Budget of $255.6 million. The grand total of all funds within the FY19 budget—General Fund, Cabarrus Arena and Events Center Fund, Landfill Fund, 911 Emergency Telephone Fund and Health Insurance Fund—is $272.7 million.

“We’re facing school capital needs that exceed $248.5 million over the next three years for Cabarrus County and Kannapolis City school districts,” said County Manager Mike Downs. “This comes alongside the needs of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and the construction of a new courthouse. The County has addressed the challenges of growth by delaying or eliminating many expansion requests and searching for new revenue sources.”

The county’s population is about 206,872, and Cabarrus County maintains its rank of 11 out of the 100 counties in North Carolina.

Projections indicate ad valorem (property) tax revenues will rise by $10.1 million in FY19. However, sales tax revenues are projected to decrease by $1.6 million, primarily due to the amount of sales tax refunds that occur in a given year.

The finalized FY19 budget highlights include:

  • Taking on an additional $5,027,229 in debt service for:
    - Construction of a new elementary school and the Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Advanced Technology Center
    - Replacement of large HVAC systems for two schools
    - Purchase of 20 mobile classroom units for school growth
  • Keeping school facilities safe and operational for several years to come by meeting deferred and current maintenance needs with sustained funding sources, and incorporating recurring funding to meet building and grounds maintenance needs.
  • Continuing to fund the increased cost in ongoing facility operations of both school districts, which exceeds $124 million including debt service. These costs include locally funded positions with benefits (89 local teacher and principal positions in the FY19 budget at $6,211,176), utilities, teacher supplements, charter schools, non-certified positions and other costs. Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s increased operational costs consist of the impact of the Cosmetology Program location move, additional staff and faculty, and energy and commodity inflation.
  • Increasing support for classroom services by raising the local teacher supplement to 8 percent of annual teacher salaries for Cabarrus County Schools and helping Kannapolis City School District move toward the same goal in the future.
  • Staffing and administering programming three days a week at a new library branch in Midland, a shared investment with the town, which will provide the facility.
  • Attracting and retaining a talented and diverse workforce. To keep up with the demands of our growing community, the County requested the addition of 43 total positions in the high-need areas of:
    - Human services: 13
    - Public safety: 17 (10 part-time, two full-time in EMS; two in Code Enforcement and three in the Sheriff’s Office)
    - Facilities and building maintenance: two
    - Solid Waste & Recycling: one
    - Library: three part-time and one full-time
    - General government: six (two in Finance, two in Information Technology Services, one in Tax Administration and one in the County Manager’s Office)
    The County also requested a salary study to evaluate the public safety pay scale and a 2 percent cost of living adjustment for all County employees.
  • Continuing to raise awareness of local problems that stem from mental health issues—including substance/opioid abuse—and provide the services required to address them

County Manager Downs presented his proposed budget on May 21. The Cabarrus County Board of Commissioners held special budget work sessions in late 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 4. Video of each session is available at www.youtube.com/cabarruscounty.

At the May 24 work session, commissioners received proposals for tax increases from the Allen Volunteer, Rimer Volunteer, Harrisburg, Kannapolis (Rural), Concord (Rural) and Concord (Jackson Park) fire districts. The Board of Commissioners sets the fire tax; however, only property owners within the respective fire district are required to pay. After a public hearing and discussion on June 18, commissioners approved a 4-cent increase to taxes for the Concord (Rural) and Concord (Jackson Park) fire districts; a 2-cent increase to taxes for the Allen Volunteer, Rimer Volunteer and Kannapolis (Rural) fire districts; and a 1.85-cent increase to the Harrisburg Fire District tax.

To help educate the community on the proposed budget, the County offered a free interactive course for residents on June 15 and led public discussions on its social media channels. Public outreach continued with a public hearing before the vote on June 18.

To learn more about the FY19 budget, visit www.cabarruscounty.us/budget.

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