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BOLIVIA—County manager Marty Lawing recommended a $224.1 million budget to county commissioners for the upcoming fiscal year Monday night and no county tax increase was included.
Lawing recommended the county’s ad valorem tax rate remain at 30.5 cents per $100 of property valuation.
Property tax revenues make up 56 percent of the general fund revenue, Lawing said.
“One year removed from a general re-appraisal of real property in Brunswick County, the smallest percentage increase in a tax revenue in the last three years is projected due primarily to the slowdown in the constructions and additions to the tax base.”
The $224.1 million budget includes $179.1 million for the general fund in addition to the enterprise fund. Together those two funds represent a 13.3 percent increase over this year’s budget adopted in June 2007. The enterprise fund includes $23.8 million for the water fund and $13.1 million for the wastewater fund.
The $179.1 million general fund, or government operating fund, budget represents a 7.9 percent increase over last year’s general fund budget.
The county’s $23.8 million water fund budget reflects a 33.6 percent increase over last year’s water fund budget.
The $13.1 million proposed for the wastewater fund budget is an increase of 10.6 percent over last year’s budget.
The proposed budget includes “significant capital improvement projects that will improve the quality of life for the residents and visitors of Brunswick County,” Lawing told commissioners.
While 202 total positions have been added to the county budget during the last three fiscal years, no additional positions have been added to the proposed budget.
“Some department heads will be asked to be creative and change the way of doing business to achieve desired performance outcomes,” Lawing told commissioners. “Deferring the addition of positions for one or more years will result in a ‘correction’ that will allow management to see where staffing shortages exist, if any.”
The county still has 62 full-time positions vacant, he said.
General fund budget items
•Brunswick County Schools will continue to receive 36.5 percent of the county’s property tax revenue. The proposed schools funding totals $31.7 million, or an 8 percent increase over last year. This increase brings the per-student funding amount to $2,667, up from $2,475 last year.
•Brunswick Community College is slated to receive $3.39 million, an increase of 17.4 percent from last year.
•Debt service has increased 20 percent from last year, totaling $16.09 million.
•A $4.8 million contribution is proposed for the health fund, which includes funding for Southeastern Mental Health and Brunswick Senior Resources.
•The capital improvement plan budget is proposed at $20.4 million. Projects included in the capital improvement plan are Phase 1 of the Holden Beach area park facilities and the Phase 1 of the Ocean Isle Beach park project. Construction of the senior center in Southport is included in the capital improvement plan for $2.5 million. Education capital improvements include $3.4 million for various renovation and improvement projects, and total $7 million.
•The Brunswick County Drug Court is slated to receive $50,000.
•Fuel costs for the general fund departments have increased 67.8 percent over last year’s funding due to the increased cost of fuel per gallon.
Enterprise fund budget items
•The Lower Cape Fear Water and Sewer Authority is expected to increase the raw water rate by 1 cent to 22 cents per 1,000 gallons. The purchased water budget is proposed for $943,000.
•Debt service on the water fund is $1.18 million, or 27 percent higher than last year.
•Nine projects are included in the $18.8 million water fund capital improvement plan.
•The wastewater capital improvement plan includes projects that total $50.2 million. The Sunset Beach collection systems is proposed to cost $37 million, and the Calabash collection system is expected to cost $8 million.
“These projects will likely be financed with revenue bonds and retired with property owner assessments,” Lawing said.
•The wholesale water rate will increase to $2.51 per 1,000 gallons, up from $2.40 per 1,000 gallons.
•The wholesale wastewater rate is proposed to decrease from $3.26 per 1,000 gallons to $3.18 per 1,000 gallons.
Commissioners scheduled a public hearing for the proposed budget for 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 2, at the county complex in Bolivia.