Dare County states budget priorities

Published 9:51 am Tuesday, May 26, 2020

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Dare County manager Robert L. Outten, in his 2021 budget message presented to the Dare County Board of Commissioners on May 18, stated: “The purpose of the county’s annual budget process is to develop a fiscally responsible plan that enables the county to accomplish priorities established by the board.”

The priorities include:

– Long Term Financial Planning for Capital: Expand capital planning and stabilize available funding through the establishment of a Capital Investment Fund and a long term capital planning and debt affordability model.

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– Economic Development: (1) Continue beach nourishment efforts, address the demand for future projects and determine additional project prioritization criteria utilizing a rewrite of the beach nourishment and debt affordability model. (2) Continue efforts towards affordable and workforce housing through zoning and planning changes and a project with the Development Finance Initiative of the UNC School of Government.

– Education: (1) Continue partnership with Dare County Schools using an agreed upon formula for local current expense and the Capital Investment Fund to adequately address future capital needs. (2) Expand the College of The Albemarle Dare County Campus though a new capital project and the establishment of a local scholarship fund.

– Human Resources: Continue to follow the recommendations of the Salary Study which was implemented in 2018 and 2019.

– Maintain all current levels of services.

– Maintain level of property taxes during a revaluation year by using the revenue neutral property rate.

– Maintain an unassigned fund balance in the General Fund of 21% of General Fund revenues.

In the proposed Manager’s Budget, two of the priorities are not met.

Under Education: Dare County Schools “requested the same level of funding after it was evident that the requirements of the funding formula could not be met,” states the budget message.

Under Human Resources: The budget does not include merit pay or cost of living adjustment (COLA) for Dare employees.

Board Chairman Robert L. Woodard asked if skipping the COLA for this year would put the county back into the same compression situation that the Salary Study was designed to eliminate.

Outten responded, “it could.”

Outten explained that COLA moves all employees up the wage scale at the same time. During the recession, COLA was not provided and that created “compression” and a $4 million problem.

Said Outten, “it can create that problem if we let it go too long.”

This item can be revisited in the fall if the county’s revenue picture has changed.



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