County Commissioners Approve $227.9 Million Budget

During a special called meeting Wednesday night, Johnston County Commissioners adopted a new 2018-2019 fiscal year spending plan that keeps the 78 cents property tax rate unchanged for the 15th consecutive year but it does include several fee increases.

The $227,942,089 budget is up $5,071,960 over the current fiscal year, an increase of 2.28%.

Last Minute Changes
Prior to adopting the budget Wednesday night, the board unanimously approved a motion by Commissioner Lee Jackson to increase funding to Johnston County Schools by an additional $600,000 to $63,563.852.  County Manager Rick Hester had previously proposed $62,963,852 for the 2018-19 fiscal year.  The school system had received $61,160,703 from the county this year. The total increase is equal to about a 4% funding hike for Johnston County Schools.

Also Wednesday night, commissioners increased funding for JCATS an additional $58,844 to $244,434, Johnston County Arts Council from $7,500 to $10,000; and the Johnston County Public Library from $456,000 to $476,000.

$21,000 was also added at the last minute for the Smithfield Rescue Mission,  $25,000 for the Boys & Girls Club, and $25,000 for Partnership for Children.

The Board also increased the fire district tax rate for the Newton Grove Fire Department (Johnston County fire district area) by 1 cent for a revised rate of 7.5 cents per $100 valuation; Selma Fire Department (Rural) by 2 cents for a revised rate of 12 cents per $100 valuation; and the Archer Lodge Fire Department an additional 2 cents for a revised rate of 9 cents per $100 valuation.

Employee Raises
The budget includes a 2.1% salary increase for county employees in July and performance pay adjustments up to 1.4% this fall based on employee reviews. Funds are also included for salary adjustments based on a recent salary study.

23 New County Positions
The adopted budget includes 23 new positions. They include 2 new sheriff’s office telecommunicators, one 911 Communications System Analyst, 6 EMS positions, 1 Environmental Health Specialist, 2 positions for Behavioral Health, 1 Administrative Support Specialist, and 1 Wellness Coordinator and 1 internal auditor for the Finance Department. 8 positions have been proposed for Public Utilities with different starting months.

Fee Increases
The Department of Solid Waste Services will increase the tipping fee at the Landfill by $2 per ton for municipal solid waste and $3 per ton fee increase for construction and demolition waste and the land clearing/inert debris-tipping fee.

County water customers will see their rates increase from $2.28 to $2.40 per 1,000 gallons on July 1st.

Base sewer rates will increase from $21 to $23 per month for most customers.  Sewer treatment rates will go from $5.10 to $5.35 per 1,000 gallons treated.

The water tap fee for homes connecting onto the county water system will increase from $650 to $920 per tap. Public utility officials had requested the tap fee increase from $650 to $1,730 for residential sites this year but commissioners adopted a smaller increase.

Residential sewer connection fees for new homes will increase from $2,700 to $2,780 for a 3/4 inch meter.

Beginning July 1st, for non-residential customers seeking to tap onto the county sewer treatment system, a one inch meter will be $6,950, 2 inch meter $22,400, 4 inch meter $69,500 and an 8 inch meter tap fee will now be $222,400. The previous cost had been $2,700 or $11.25 gallons per day (GPD) whichever is greater.