Johnston County Commissioners have approved their new 2016-2017 fiscal year budget. During a special called meeting on Monday commissioners unanimously adopted the $211 million spending plan, up from the $209 million proposal prepared by County Manager Rick Hester. The 78 cents property tax rate will remain unchanged.
Commissioners did not fully fund the Johnston County Board of Education’s request for $63.2 million. However they did increase funding by $1.5 million over what Hester had recommended but did stipulate $1.9 million in funding from the county this year would be used to increase classroom teacher supplements and not be diverted to any other area. The school board received $55 million this year. Hester had proposed $56.3 million but with the $1.5 million added by commissioners it increased funding for 2016-17 to $57.8 million.
The Board also allocated $25,000 for Harbor Inc., $10,000 to the Smithfield Rescue Mission, $25,000 for the Boys and Girls Club, $30,000 for the Dr. Wade Atkinson Memorial Library and Community Center at Corbett Hatcher, and increased funding to the Public Library by an additional $10,000. Commissioners also approved $34,000 towards a local match for a Johnston County Regional Airport grant, $2,180 more to the NC Forestry Service, and approved 4 new EMS positions.
“I am happy we adopted the 2016-2017 Budget this morning,” said Board Chairman Tony Braswell. “As this process is time consuming, I want to thank Staff, and the Commissioners for their hard work . We are charged with the responsibility of overseeing the taxpayers money, and we understand that charge, so again we passed a budget without any tax increase. As in the past, we start with projected revenue, and spend within our means.”
“One of the top priories of the commissioners was the allocation of money for supplements for classroom teachers, and we did that, 1.9 million dollars. I would encourage the BOE (Board of Education) to also seek ways to add dollars to this amount, making that supplement even higher. Again all towns and the county passed budgets without knowing what additional impacts we may have form the State, who have yet to pass a budget.”
Funds are included for the design of a new detention center but not the actual construction, which will have to be paid for with a loan. County employees will see a 2 percent pay increase July 1st and a potential 1 percent performance pay increase in the fall based on individual employee reviews.
In addition to the 4 EMS positions approved today, 14 additional positions are included. Seven of those are at the Department of Social Services, 4 deputy sheriff’s, 2 in the 911 Center, and one in child support.
An increase in the landfill tipping fee for yard debris from $16 to $18 per ton was passed. The cost for a decal to dispose of household waste at the convenience sites around the county will increase from $65 to $100.
Johnston County is the 10th fastest growing county in North Carolina. The County’s population has grown by 50 percent since 2000. An estimated 184,000 people now live in the county. The number will surpass 200,000 in 5 years.
Johnston County Manager Rick Hester said, “The finalized budget stays within the parameters of the two numbers we work with, the 78 cents tax rate and the minimum of a 15 percent fund balance.” The fund balanced is projected to be at 17 percent on June 30, 2017.