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Polk manager presents budget

Upcoming budget includes no property or fire tax increases

COLUMBUS—After having a 2-cent property tax increase this fiscal year and various fire department increases, Polk County residents’ tax bills will remain stable this upcoming year.

Polk County Manager Marche Pittman presented his budget proposal for fiscal year 2020-2021 Monday during a Zoom meeting with commissioners.

Commissioners directed Pittman last month to have no tax increases next fiscal year because of the strain the coronavirus has put on residents.

The total budget is for $33,274,901, with the tax rate remaining at 54.94 cents per $100 of property valuation.

“This year’s budget does not include any tax increase and does not use fund balance appropriation to balance the budget,” Pittman told commissioners. “This is a year of budgeting like none other I have experienced as a manager. Due to the COVID-19 shutdown, we know that there will be economic impacts to businesses and residents next fiscal year. Those impacts will directly affect our budget in declining sales tax revenues and our property tax collection could also be reduced.”

Pittman said the sales and property tax are the known issues and there will be numerous unknowns.

“By not appropriating fund balance to balance the budget, we ensure that the only potential decrease the fund balance will receive is one that is based on declining revenues beyond those already anticipated,” Pittman said.

Pittman budgeted a 10 percent decrease over this year’s sales tax revenue because of the virus. He said he based that decrease from state resources and local trends.

“We have no idea if this will be enough of a decrease in projected revenue,” Pittman said. “It is a percentage that is in line with other North Carolina counties and we do have fund balance to absorb any additional decrease in funding.”

Major capital expenses proposed for the county next year includes $293,200 for the sheriff’s office for new patrol vehicles, computer replacements and investigative supplies; $148,910 for the transportation department for vehicles, which will be reimbursed 90 percent; $84,000 for solid waste for a forklift, maintenance building and recycling bin replacements; $20,370 for the department of social services for office chairs, computers and furniture; $16,759 for the library for technology updates and building improvements; $16,311 for the communication center for net clock and computer replacements; $15,000 for the recreation department for gym floor sanding, paint and refinish; $6,788 for the tax department for computer replacements and office chairs and $5,250 for the EMS for a radio for an ambulance, portable radios and a computer.

There are also some minor personnel changes, including making a part-time animal control position full-time and employee raises across the board of 2.5 percent beginning on Jan. 1, 2021.

The new budget year begins on July 1.

Commissioners plan to hold their first budget work session on Monday, May 11 at 9 a.m. in the R. Jay Foster Hall of Justice, located on the second floor of the Womack building in Columbus. The meeting will be done by Zoom.