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In Dare, county manager’s proposed budget out for review

At the May 17 meeting of the Dare County Board of Commissioners, county manager Robert L. Outten presented his recommended budget for fiscal year 2022 and planned budget for fiscal year 2023.

For next fiscal year, which starts July 1, 2021, the budget for all funds totals $177,886,587. The General Fund budget which is the operating budget totals $112.7 million.

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for Monday, June 7, 2021.

A copy of the manager’s proposed budget is posted online at darenc.com under budget documents on the page for the Finance Department.

Going into last fiscal year, the budget prognostication was dire. With the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing during budget season, the county anticipated a total budget decline of 5.59%.

That did not happen. General Fund revenue increased with land transfer tax through April up by 104.12%, Register of Deeds fees are up by 102.31% and sales taxes and occupancy tax revenue increased, too.

The revenue increases are considered a “windfall.” The fiscal year 2022 budget is predicated on revenues returning to normal levels.

The proposed budget does not call for an increase in property taxes. The rate remains 40.05 cents per $100 valuation.

“We’ve kept our tax rates among the lowest in North Carolina,” said Outten. The rate ranks as the fifth lowest.

The budget does propose an increase in the sanitation tax for unincorporated Dare County. The rate will increase to 9.0 cents per $100 valuation.

The General Fund budget increases by $5.6 million.

Among the largest increases is $1.48 million in salaries and fringes for a 2% COLA and reinstatement of the merit pool for fiscal year 2022. Both were also awarded during fiscal year 2021.

The formula used to calculate the funding for the Dare County Schools increases by $660,508, bringing the total General Fund obligation for the school system to $23.89 million for local current expense and $1.3 million for county-employed school nurses and school resource officers. Education represents 23% of the Dare County General Fund Budget.

Public Safety uses 30% of the operating budget.

Several new positions are funded, including one in Emergency Management, eight in Emergency Medical Services, one each in facilities and ground maintenance. An assistant at the Youth Center in Manteo will be added. A $6,000 salary increase will be added for the Dare County librarian.

Negotiations are ongoing between BrightSpring and Dare County regarding the sale of the Dare Home Health and Hospice certificate of need.

The manager’s proposed budget, which is effective July 1, 2021, shows a decrease of $1,837,321 representing salaries and other expenses for home health and hospice. If the sale does not happen before July 1, then the budget would be increased by this amount. If the sale goes through, the $1.84 million will be decreased by lost by revenue, leaving a $293,182 residual. BrightSpring offered $2.9 million for the certificate of need which is not disbursed in the proposed budget. “The 2022 budget also assumes that any required County 2022 expenditures will be funded and budgeted from the certificate of need sale proceeds,” states the manager’s budget message, under the Health Department paragraph.

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