Commissioners Schedule Public Hearing On New Budget

Johnston County Commissioners will hold a Public Hearing next week to gather feedback on County Manager Rick Hester’s proposed 2019-2020 fiscal year budget that includes an 11.4 percent increase in the county property tax rate.

The public hearing will take place on Monday, June 3rd at 10:00am during their regular monthly meeting of the Board of Commissioners.   Citizens can address the board during the public comments section of the meeting.

Two additional budget meetings have been scheduled. Those budget meetings will take place on Monday, June 10th and Monday, June 17th at 6:00pm.  Officials are anticipated to adopt the budget at the conclusion of the June 17th meeting.

The proposed $241.5 million spending plan is up 6% over the current $227.9 million 2018-2019 fiscal year budget.

A major concern among taxpayers is a proposed increase in the property tax rate.  The Johnston County Tax Office recently completed a property revaluation, the first since 2011. The average 2019 property value increased 24 percent. To remain revenue neutral, the tax rate could have been lowered from the current 78 cents to a new rate of 70 cents per $100 valuation. However, the proposed budget keeps the tax rate unchanged at 78 cents, which is equal to an 11.4% increase in property tax rates.

For an average homeowner who paid $780.00 in taxes last year on a $100,000 home, their tax bill would increase to $967.20 this year, up an additional $187.20.  That’s not the only proposed increase.

Base water rates will increase 18% from $16 to $19 per month, and consumption rates per 1,000 gallons will go up 7.2% from $3.45 to $3.70.

Base sewer rates will climb 15% from $23.00 to $26.50 for residential customers while treatment costs will increase 11% from $5.35 to $5.95 per 1,000 gallons.

Water tap fees would climb 95% and sewer tap fees for homes will go up 36% on July 1st under the proposal.

The budget includes 3.9% more funding for Johnston County Schools and Johnston Community College.

Johnston County Schools have requested $84,062,810 this year, a 32.25% increase.  Hester’s proposal includes $66,042,842 or $18,019,968 less than the school board had requested.

Johnston Community College will receive $5,295,186 from the County for current expenses and capital outlay.

Local matching funds are included to fund 7 new School Resource Officer positions in middle schools that are currently served by local municipalities.

County employees would see a 2.1% salary increase in July with a performance pay adjustment of up to 1.4% in October.  Funds are also included for the second phase of the Mercer review, third phase of the restructured longevity plan, and the wage compression program.

A total of 28 new positions are included. Among them are 8 new employees in Emergency Medical Services, 7 in the Sheriff’s Office, 7 in the Department of Social Services. The Register of Deeds Office, Child Support, Planning Department, Animal Services and Veterans Service Office will each receive one new employee. A new Parks, Greenways and Open Space Coordinator position is also included.