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Dare commissioners look at spending for next two fiscal years

Dare commissioners attended a budget workshop and reviewed draft budgets for fiscal years 2022 and 2023.

County manager Robert L. Outten made the presentation on Monday, May 3.

After thanking finance director David Clawson and deputy finance director Sally DeFosse for their assistance, Outten said “we’ve got a budget that works.”

Outten announced no overall ad valorem tax increase.

However, Outten is recommending the sanitation levy for unincorporated Dare County rise to 9.0 cents from 8.86 cents in FY 2022 and to 9.25 cents from 9.0 cents in FY 2023.

Over the years, a sizeable fund balance had accrued in sanitation’s enterprise account. These funds were used to balance the sanitation budget for several years.

The county manager is also recommending a developing a rate model and structure for solid waste fees and tax rates. Raftelis has developed the rate model for the county’s water system.

In FY 2022, no health plan increase is anticipated. In FY 2023, a 5% increase is planned.

In 2022, employees are scheduled to receive a 2% cost of living adjustment and merit pay.

An employee training program will be started in FY 2022. Outten reported that no employee training has ever been done. Some successor training will be offered.

The FY 2022 budget includes a recurring pay raise for Dare’s commissioners. Outten is proposing $15,400 annually for board members and $15,600 for board chairman, which is the pay scale in Currituck County for FY2020. The Dare board last had a raise in 2007. The current salary is $9,365 for the board chairman and $8,905 for commissioners.

In funding for Dare County Schools, the draft budget follows the formula devised to make budgeting easier for the two organizations. In FY 2022, the schools can expect $23,892,757, an increase of $606,608. In FY 2023, the manager’s draft budget calls for $24,609,957.

A few new positions are added in 2022 and 2023 for General Fund expenditures:

– Elections: additional funding for part-time election workers.

– Tax Assessment: funding for a half-time position.

– Facilities Maintenance: one position in 2022; two positions in 2023.

– Grounds Maintenance: one position in 2022; one position in 2023.

– Sheriff: increase in part-time salaries provided.

– Emergency Medical Services: to be determined. The county’s EMS operation has a five-year staffing plan. Outten reported that the county is about a year behind in implementing the department’s plan. The budget request calls for 13 additional positions for FY 2022 and 23 in the following fiscal year.

– EMS Helicopter: increased overtime funding; part-time funding redistributed to training.

– Emergency Management: a new fire inspector is recommended. The line item is $72,760.

– Health: A new position for an environmental health specialist is created in FY 2022. In 2023, the draft budget calls for re-starting the dental van by hiring a dentist and dental hygienist.

The budget also eliminates 22.5 positions in Dare Home Health and Hospice, reducing the overall budget by $1,762,916 in FY 2022 and $1,792,485 in the draft budget’s second year and eliminating other operating costs of $320,427.

– Social Services: a position allocation of 40% is included.

– Parks and Recreation: three new positions are created: leisure activity coordinator, part-time custodian and field maintenance supervisor.

– Dare Center: a new part-time program coordinator is funded.

– Baum Center: a part-time custodian moves to full-time.

Additional budget changes proposed in the budget include:

– Setting up funding for the new animal shelter.

– Under Social Services, the budget calls for increasing contributions for both budget years to Children & Youth Partnership by $30,000; Hatteras Island Meals by $5,500 and Room in the Inn by $2,000.

– Increasing College of The Albemarle local current expense by to $102,835 to a total of $530,739 in the first year and $550,000 in the second year.

Outten announced that Brent Johnson, the county’s current project manager, will be leaving to accept another position. County purchasing agent Dustin Peele will move into that position. Outten mentioned finding a grant writer to “chase grants.”

Under Parks and Recreation, the commissioners considered public commenter Scott Garber’s request for opening evening hours at the Kill Devil Hills recreation center for playing pickleball. The court at Dowdy Park is the only public pickleball court available. Questions about hours, available resources and operations were asked.

Toward the last of the operating budget review, Robert L. Woodard said “we need some refurbishing!” He said it was time to look at upgrading parks and recreation facilities.

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