• By Todd Luck
  • Posted Friday, May 24, 2019

Proposed County Budget Reflects a Strong Local Economy

County Manager Dudley Watts presented a proposed $454.2 million budget for 2019-2020 to the Forsyth County commissioners on May 23 that reflects a vibrant economy in Forsyth County.

“There’s a strong local economy, driving new tax base at historic post-recession levels,” said Watts.

The proposed balanced budget reflects a $27.9 million, or 6.5 percent, increase from the current year. The growth means that there’s an additional $4.3 million in support for local schools using the county’s school funding formula. The budget has a total of $182 million for school operations and debt service, which accounts for 40.1 percent of the overall county budget.

The budget includes a 2 cent tax increase to fund debt service for the construction of the new courthouse, which will be built adjacent to the Forsyth County Government Center. The increase will bring the overall tax rate to 74.35 cent and will generate $7.4 million in revenue. The 2 cents will bring the tax rate devoted to debt retirement to 9.98 cents, which includes debt payments from voter-approved library, community college, school and park bonds.

The proposed budget funds county services at their current levels with recommendations on using the $793,955 left over for some of the additional requests for funding from Social Services, Public Health, the Sheriff's Office, Animal Services, Community & Economic Development, Public Libraries and a special appropriation to support the Family Services Battered Women’s Shelter. These recommendations for additional funding account for a small portion of the $57.5 million in Alternate Service Level requests from department and outside agencies that were received for the next fiscal year.

If the budget is approved, the ratio of debt service to General Fund expenditures would be 15.8 percent. The county’s Capital Improvement Plan may drift slightly over the county’s 18 percent debt ceiling in two of the next five years, but will provide ample funding for capital maintenance and avoids long term problems with deferred maintenance.

The budget maintains a 14 percent target fund balance to ensure the county can meet cash flow demands throughout the year and has enough money for emergencies and unforeseen circumstances. Any funds in excess of the 14 percent at year-end will be earmarked for pay-go projects for consideration by the commissioners.

This budget presentation begins a long process of meetings and workshops over the next few weeks that will lead to the passage of the budget by the commissioners, which will go into effect on July 1.

The budget is available online on the Budget Department website. It can also be viewed at the County Manager’s office at the County Government Center, 201 N. Chestnut Street, and at county libraries.

The Budget process will continue with these meetings at the Government Center:

* A Detailed Budget Presentation that will start at 9 a.m. on May 30.

* A Public Hearing on the budget, where residents can give their comments, will be held at 2 p.m. on June 3.

* Budget Workshops will be held June 4,5 and 6 at 9 a.m.

* A Special Meeting, where the commissioners may possibly adopt the budget, will be held on June 6 at 2 p.m.

If the budget isn’t adopted by the commissioners on June 6, they would consider it at their 2 p.m. meeting on June 13.

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