Carteret County

BEAUFORT — Anticipating more than $1.5 million in budget impacts from revenue losses due to the novel coronavirus pandemic,Carteret County is considering a 2-cent property tax increase for the upcoming 2020-21 fiscal year.

The increase would raise the property tax rate from 31 to 33 cents per $100 of assessed property value. It would be the first increase since 2016-17, when the county raised the rate from 30 to 31 cents. Even with the increase, the county would still have the lowest county property tax rate in the state.

County Finance Director Dee Meshaw presented the recommendation as part of the overall proposed budget to the Carteret County Board of Commissioners during the board’s regular monthly meeting Monday evening in Superior Courtroom 2 of the administration building. The yearly tax-and-spend plan must be adopted before the beginning of the new fiscal year, Wednesday, July 1.

“This was the hardest budget I’ve done in 25 years I’ve been doing local government budgets,” Ms. Meshaw said. “The economic shutdown really is what made this budget so challenging.”

County Manager Tommy Burns noted the county anticipates a net loss of about $1.65 million in revenues as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, including an estimated $800,000 in lost sales tax revenues.

“Another big hit for us was investment earnings,” Mr. Burns said. “Our investment earnings have increased steady until March and you can just see the fallout, so that’s a consideration.”

Ms. Meshaw said in preparing the budget, her priorities were to maintain the current level of services, budget revenues “conservatively” and implement the countywide property revaluation carried out this year.

According to the county, the preliminary assessed property value is $16.54 billion countywide. One cent of tax generates approximately $1.6 million.

As proposed, the county’s fiscal year 2020-21 budget totals $123.16 million between all funds, a $38.13 million decrease from the current fiscal year. The decrease is largely because a number of big-ticket items were completed this year, including phase two of the beach nourishment project, dredging projects and grant-funded land acquisitions.

The general fund is the single largest budget fund at $99.02 million, a 0.14% increase, or about $140,000, over this fiscal year. Income from property taxes make up the largest share of the general fund revenues at $54.61 million, or 55.15%. Other major sources of revenue are sales and other taxes, intergovernmental sources, such as state and federal grants, and permits and fees.

The proposed fund balance, used to balance revenues and expenses, is $1.6 million, $3.7 million less than the current fiscal year.

The single largest proposed general fund expenditure is for education, including Carteret County Public Schools and Carteret Community College, at $27.25 million. When debt service is added, education expenditures total $33.53 million, or 33.86% of the general fund.

Human services is the next largest proportion of the general fund budget at $18.79 million, or 18.98%, followed by public safety and general government. Other expenditures include environmental protection, economic development, transportation and recreation.

Other funds include the special revenue funds, encompassing rescue districts, fire districts and occupancy tax, the capital projects fund and the enterprise fund, which includes water.

Ms. Meshaw said there were numerous position requests from various county departments that could not be accommodated in the proposed budget, but she does recommend new full-time positions for information technology, the tax department, the Carteret County Area Transit System and public library system. In addition, the budget recommends two new detention officers and a detention officer supervisor for the sheriff’s office. It also includes a new public health nurse position for the health department.

A copy of the proposed budget is available on the county’s website at carteretcountync.gov.

The board commissioners will hold a public hearing on the recommended budget at a special meeting beginning at 6 p.m. Monday, June 1.

 

Contact Elise Clouser at elise@thenewstimes.com; by phone at 252-726-7081; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.

(9) comments

Drime

The county uses most of the tax money on the School system and I get that . But "WHY" , I must ask as a Morehead City Taxpayer too , Why do I have to pay for School Resource Officers The MHCPD provides with City Tax money in County Schools located in the City limits of Morehead with City tax dollars ? Does this happen in Beaufort ,Newport , and Cape Carteret as well. County Schools on County property ?? We are being double taxed ! For the same service .

sick and tired

Drime said a mouthful. This is great. Especially since we got a property re-evaluation earlier this year. We knew the tax bill would be going up. Now it will be going up AGAIN with the per $100 tax rate increase, as small as it may look. If my property tax value went up that was already more than last year. Add this .?? per $100 tax increase on my now increased property re-evaluation. It is a brilliant idea. Have to give them an A+ How do you spend more money when the doors are shut?

Core Sounder

while it may be true that Carteret county tax rate is the cheapest in the State its far from being the county with the overall lowest property taxes paid by property owners. Mostly due to the jacked up property values . This pandemic is affecting us all and more than a few of us have no job. Now is not the right time to force out of work homeowners to fork out more money for taxes . This county needs to learn how to tighten its belt and quit spending hard working taxpayer dollars like it grows on trees. If you cant figure out a way to that then step aside and let folks that can take over the reigns

beachmami13

[thumbup][thumbup] Totally agree! I've said for years that our real estate is overvalued in order to give outsiders the idea that it's worth more & so that we can say our taxes are very low. I see many houses that aren't selling b/c they are trying to sell them for what they "say" they are worth, as well as people who paid more and now have realized their houses aren't worth all that the county claims they are. I'd rather have property values more in line with what the actual sale prices are and fair taxes that are spent conservatively, as opposed to how the taxes have been spent on high end administrative buildings, expensive playgrounds and overspending in general. The county needs to start focusing on needs, not wants, and being more conservative with their spending. Many people are out of work and many in this area can't afford any additional taxes. We need to be looking out for the common Joe, not spending $$ to try to impress tourists with fancy buildings. It's insane.

Osprey

If the $42 million school bond passes in November will the tax rate increase another 2 cents next year ?

Beacon

We all lost income from our investment accounts but cannot make it up by having a personal tax increase. Also, no mention of a belt tightening plan by the county managers. We all have to share the pain of the virus economy.

CARTERETISCORRUPT

The county wants to make up for the losses. The taxpayers cannot do this, why should the government do it, especially off the back of the taxpayers who experienced losses as well. The county should reduce taxes, not increase it.

CARTERETISCORRUPT

The lost sales tax was due in part to the mayors ill suited roadblocks and restrictions. It wasn't the virus that did this, it was government.

klacy

An all Republican Board wants to raise property tax, and according to another article, the sales tax In a referendum. Thought they were supposed to cut spending instead.

Welcome to the discussion.

As a privately owned web site, we reserve the right to edit or remove comments that contain spam, advertising, vulgarity, threats of violence, racism, anti-Semitism, or personal/abusive/condescending attacks on other users or goading them. The same applies to trolling, the use of multiple aliases, or just generally being a jerk. Enforcement of this policy is at the sole discretion of the site administrators and repeat offenders may be blocked or permanently banned without warning.