Johnston County residents would pay slightly less property taxes under County Manager Rick Hester’s proposed 2021-2022 fiscal year budget. The $282 million spending plan includes a one cent reduction in the property tax rate from 76 to 75 cents per $100 valuation. For a resident with a $200,000 home, the reduction will save them $20 next year.
The budget is shown at $282 million, Hester said, however, $14 million of that is due to anticipated revenues exceeding expenses, the difference of which must be placed in an expense account. The additional funds are earmarked for the General Fund outlay account. “With that said, the actual anticipated expenses for this proposed budget is $268 million,” Mr. Hester said in his budget summary message. The current 2020-21 budget is $253 million.
The County projects to have a 50 percent fund balance by June 30, 2021, or approximately $134 million in cash reserves.
The 2021-2022 proposal includes a new debt service payment for the final $36 million 2018 bond referendum for Johnston County Public Schools and Johnston Community College. Funds are also included for the first installment of the proposed Public Safety Center Phase Two project, which would be located on the same site as the new detention center on Highway 70 East. Phase Two would include a new building to house the Sheriff’s Office, 911 Communications and Emergency Services.
The budget proposal includes $72.5 million for Johnston County Public Schools, over $7 million less than the $79,927,090 requested by the school board. Additionally, JCPS sought $2,962,000 for capital improvements. Hester has recommended giving $1.2 million for the capital projects, less than half the amount requested. (JCPS will have a projected $20 million in reserve funding by June 30, 2021 due to excess federal CARES Act funding and reduced expenses during the pandemic.)
Johnston Community College would receive $4,545,000 for current expenses and $454,756 for capital outlay during 2021-22.
The budget package includes an across-the-board pay increase of 2.1 percent in July 2021 for county employees plus an additional performance (merit) pay adjustment of up to 1.5 percent in September. In previous years, performance pay began in October. The new budget moves that up to September.
There are several dozen new positions being added in the next fiscal year with 28 of those being for new EMS workers as Johnston County takes over contract EMS agencies in Four Oaks and 50-210 on July 1. Hester said a significant portion of the expenses of the 28 new EMS workers will be offset by medical billing that had previously gone to the contracted agencies.
The Department of Social Services had requested 14 new positions. Ten are included beginning July 1st and the remaining four positions potentially later in the fiscal year if funds are available. The county would receive partial federal reimbursement for some of the positions.
Another position requested is for Human Resources. Five new position are included in Public Utilities.
Johnston County public water customers would see their base rates increase from $19/month to $21/month and water rates go from $3.90 per 1,000 gallons to $4.15 per 1,000 gallons. Base sewer rates would increase from $30 to $31/month and sewer treatment fees go from $6.55 to $6.90 per 1,000 gallons.
The Department of Solid Waste is requesting a $3 per ton tipping fee increase at the Landfill and a $3 increase in the minimum weigh ticket transaction from $5 to $8. There is no increase in the $100 trash decal fee to use any of the convenience sites. The convenience site fees are scheduled to be eliminated in the summer of 2023.
No increases in water and sewer tap fees are proposed in 2021-2022, according to Mr. Hester.