County Manager Releases Some Details On Estimated $253 Million Budget

Hester says 76 cents property tax rate will remain unchanged
Water and wastewater fees could increase 

SMITHFIELD – Johnston County Manager Rick Hester is still finalizing his 2020-2021 fiscal year budget proposal he will present to Johnston County Commissioners in a couple of weeks. Hester sat down in his office on Thursday to share some of the highlights and discuss the challenges of putting together the spending plan.

“It’s like throwing a dart but there’s no dart board,” Hester said trying to anticipate the impact of the coronavirus on sales tax revenues in the new fiscal year budget beginning July 1st.  Johnston County was projected to receive $51 million in sales tax revenue in the current fiscal year budget. That number has been lowered to $38 million.  Hester said he is still calculating how much sales tax revenue to include in next year’s budget.

The latest amended 2019-2020 County budget is $251,996,844.  Hester said he anticipates less than one percent growth in the new spending plan to about $253 million.  The new budget will include the first payment of $2.5 million on a new detention center plus ongoing payments on previously-approved school construction bonds.

The county manager said there are no plans to increase the 76 cents property tax rate, however some increases in water and wastewater rates are likely.  He is still evaluating a pay increase for the 1,150 full time county employees.

Mr. Hester said one of the final pieces of his draft budget is to recommend to commissioners how much to fund Johnston County Public Schools and Johnston Community College. He did not disclose what those numbers might be.

The proposed budget will be formally presented to County Commissioners in mid-May and also placed on the county’s website for the public to see.  Commissioners are expected to hold a Public Hearing on the 2020-2021 budget proposal on June 1st at 10:00am, conduct a Budget Workshop on June 8th at 6:00pm, and adopt the budget on June 15th at 6:00pm.