DOBSON — Several departments in the county, with a few exceptions, are going to be tightening their belts next year, if the Surry County Board of Commissioners approve the budget as proposed by administrators.
The proposed budget, as presented by county staff, increases the county’s tax rate from 58.2 cents per $100 in property value to 61.2 cents per $100.
But a tax increase doesn’t necessarily mean more money in the county’s coffers.
If approved by the board as presented, next year’s budget will decrease the county’s general fund to $70,166,146, down from the current $72,146,838.
The tax increase recommended in the proposed budget will generate about $1.49 million in additional revenue, and County Manager Dennis Thompson has told the board that he hopes it will be allocated as follows:
• $260,000 for economic development projects including $60,000 for Pilot Mountain Pride, and $200,000 for the county’s required matching funds for the Interstates Sewer Project.
• $577,122 for essential capital improvements to the county’s emergency services department. The funds have been earmarked for the purchase of a new ambulance, six patrol cars, one jail transport vehicle and two animal control vehicles.
• $671,531 for debt payments required as part of capital improvement projects in the county’s school systems. Both the Mount Airy and the Surry County boards of education have noted that this year is the end of federal dollars for programs like the EduJobs program and Stabilization dollars. The districts also are seeing the end of federal stimulus money. Both districts have said that without increased funding from the county this year, personnel cuts will be necessary to enable the districts to operate with existing dollars.
• Education — Thompson’s proposed budget decreases funding for the county’s three school districts. While the requested allocation was $30,501,679, up sharply from the current $22,450,354, the recommended funding for next year is $22,019,204.
County educators have asked the county for funding help next year since they’re losing a considerable amount of federal and state dollars.
They asked that the county increase the amount of per-pupil funding to $1,125, from the current $1,060. Next year’s proposed budget cuts the funding to $1,015 per pupil.
They also requested that the county increase the per-student capital appropriation from the current $50 per student to $100 per student. The proposed budget cuts it to $40 per pupil.
• Social Services — The Department of Social Services decreased its budget request this year, asking for $11,114,603, down slightly from its current budget of $11,176,983. The proposed budget cuts the department’s operating budget to $11,068,656.
• Health and Nutrition — Like social services, the county health department lowered its request for next year, to $9,572,581 from the current $11,449,875. The recommended budget cuts a little deeper, recommending the department receive $9,552,581.
• Sheriff’s Office — Funding for the sheriff’s office is set to increase slightly next year, according to the proposed budget. The current funding of $6,324,670 is recommended to be upped to $6,478,884. The department requested funding of $6,569,503 next year.
• Emergency Services — Thompson’s budget also increases funding for the county’s emergency services department, up to $6,714,597 from the current $6,060,293. The department requested $6,734,597.
• Economic and Community Development — Funding for the economic development department is projected to drop next year as well, according to the proposed budget. It calls for a budget of $3,095,945 next year, a decrease from the current budget of $3,160,275. The department requested funding in the amount of $3,232,419.
• Public Records — The county’s public records department also is expected to see a cut in funding next year, if the recommended budget is passed as proposed. Thompson recommends a budget of $2,394,109 next year, down from the current budget of $2,495,778. The department requested funding of $2,426,609.
• Policy and Administration — Funding also is expected to decrease in county administration, according to the proposed budget. This year’s budget of $2,401,474 is expected to drop to $2,345,820. County officials had requested funding in the amount of $2,410,567.
The board of commissioners will consider the proposed budget during a work session Tuesday.
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.