The Transylvania Times -

Public Silent On Budget During Hearing


Last updated 6/10/2020 at 4:35pm

No one spoke Monday during the public hearing on the proposed 2020/2021 general fund budget for Transylvania County government.

The proposed budget includes no property tax increase, with the tax rate remaining at $.636 cents per $100 of valuation.

After a budget workshop last week, a majority of commissioners backed increasing the fire tax in each district a half cent to 6 cents, with another $1.2 million from the 10.5 tax increase approved to pay the $68 million bond to pay the rest of the fire department funding.

Commissioners moved to use the bond funds due to delays in the school projects starting from the original schedule.

If commissioners hadn’t chosen this route, it would mean a 2-cent property tax increase to fully fund the fire departments.

Commissioners also recommended providing funding to add the first paid personnel and some operating expenses to Balsam Grove Fire Department.

On May 26, County Manager Jaime Laughter presented her $59.7 million general fund budget for the new fiscal year, which begins July 1. After two budget workshops, the budget now stands at $61,041,976, a roughly 9 percent spending decrease from the current budget.

After the workshops, the only changes to Laugher’s recommended budget were $20,000 for Blue Ridge Community College to create a master plan for the Brevard campus and the funding for the fire department budgets.

On Monday, Laughter said the reduced capital funding and vehicle replacements would need to be revisited first with available revenue to avoid spiking costs later.

She recommended more conversation on these subjects in September and January after the impact on sales tax revenue is better known. Sales tax revenue is expected to be down 15 percent while a $200,000 hit is anticipated in Medicaid hold harmless payments.

COVID-19 is estimated to cause $2 million in revenue losses to the county.

Laughter recommended taking the revenues from the 2 cent tax increases in the 2016 and 2020 fiscal years for capital funding to offset those losses. Another $1.4 million was taken from the unassigned fund balance.

Proposed expenditures include general government down 3 percent; education holding steady; culture and recreation steady; public safety up 2 percent; human services up 2 percent; debt service up due to the school bond; and transfers down.

Commissioners are expected to approve the budget during their next meeting on June 22.


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