County budget goes to public hearing June 16

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By Brian Slattery

BOLIVIA — County Manager Ann Hardy’s 2014-15 budget presented several “U” shaped charts to represent the county’s rising fortunes after hitting rock bottom during the housing bubble collapse.

Hardy presented commissioners with the budget proposal at the Monday, May 19, county meeting beginning with a look at the budgets (including water and sewer costs), which hit a county high of $224.7 million in 2009 before the economic fall required a drop in budget to $198.6 million in 2010, a low of $190.6 million in 2012 before revenues improved in the last two fiscal years, leading to a recommended 2014-15 budget of $210.2 million.

Hardy said after the recession, county revenues improved in all major categories.

She said staff projects a slight increase in the tax base prior to property revaluation in 2015, so the ad valorem tax rate is proposed to stay at 44.25 cents.

Hardy said the $210.2 million budget will be balanced with $3.75 million from the fund balance.

The fund balance appropriation is considered reasonable because of the county’s fiscal year 2012-2013 unassigned fund balance of $55.1 million, which would cover 35.8 percent of expenditures.

Hardy said the general government debt service budget for 2014-15 would be $13.8 million.

The county renegotiated a five-year extension of solid waste collection and disposal with Waste Industries that extends the contract through June 2023 with a 2014-15 unit price of $11.92 per month.

The county entered into a funding agreement with the Brunswick County Board of Education through June 30, 2015, requiring the county to provide 36.5 percent of the ad valorem tax revenue to the schools for operating expenditures less the portion of the tax rate dedicated to pay debt service.

The total recommended fiscal year 2014-2015 school appropriation, in accordance with the funding agreement, is $34,034,823

State lottery proceeds provide $800,000 to be used mainly to meet annual technology needs.

Hardy gave a conservative estimate of 600 water connections projected in the upcoming fiscal year, so no increase in the retail water rate of $3.05 per 1000 gallons is recommended.

But she recommended an increase in the retail base rate of $1 per month. A 3⁄4-inch meter is recommended to increase from the current $11 per month base charge to $12 to meet the costs of plant expansion and transmission improvements.

There is no increase in the current sewer retail rate structure.

The wholesale rate is recommended to decrease from $2.70 to $2.60 per 1000 gallons.

Following the presentation, commissioners voted to schedule a public hearing on the proposed budget for 6 p.m. Monday, June 16.

The board could also vote to adopt the budget following that hearing.

Brian Slattery is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or bslattery@brunswickbeacon.com.