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City considers tax increase, while county holds the line

brittany@yesweekly.com

FORSYTH COUNTY 2014-2015 BUDGET

No frills. That is the description of Forsyth County’s proposed budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

Forsyth County manager, Dudley Watts, first presented the new budget to the Board of Commissioners on May 15. Last Thursday, Watts held another meeting to go over the specifics of the proposed budget.

“We’ve got a very no frills continuation budget that really doesn’t have anything new to speak of,” Watts said.

Watts’ proposed budget for 2014-2015 is $401.2 million. The current budget is $399.8 million. While it is a $1.4 million increase, Watts made it clear to the commissioners that there would be no tax increase.

“This budget is based on responsibly optimistic revenue projections,” Watts said.

Because of certain adjustments made at the state level, there will be more items being taxed this year. These tax changes mean that Forsyth County’s tax revenue is projected to grow by $2 million over the next year.

Under the new proposed budget, some countyfunded departments are set to see an increase in spending while others are facing a decrease.

The sheriff’s department is recommended to receive a .01-percent increase in funding, totaling $239,343. The department has requested funding for over 40 new full-time positions, but the proposed budget of $41.7 million will not include the new positions.

County salary adjustments are also recommended to see an increase totaling $275,875 as well as an increase for necessities such as vehicle replacements that will cost $274,645.

Forsyth Technical Community College will also see an increase of funding by 7.3 percent, totaling $621,170. FTCC requested $9.3 million for campus renovations, but this amount was not included in the proposed budget.

Unlike the college, the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County schools are set to see a decrease in funding under the proposed budget. The schools are facing a decrease in funding of almost $680,000.

The schools have requested $116.3 million this year. Watts’ proposal will give the schools $113.75 million, including the $1.7 million appropriation given annually for maintenance and repairs.

The budget has not been approved yet, and the details of the budget will be discussed and adjusted over the next several weeks.

WINSTON-SALEM 2014-2015 BUDGET

City Manager Lee Garrity proposed Winston-Salem’s 2014-2015 budget last week to Mayor Allen Joines and the City Council. A new budget has to be approved by June 30, and it will go into effect on July 1.

Under the $506.9 million proposed budget, the city property-tax will increase by one cent to make up for the estimated $300-$400 million loss in value that the city faces due to a new law passed that excludes data centers from taxation.

“In terms of property tax revenue, this exclusion will cost city government between $1.6 million to $2.1 million,” Garrity said.

According to Garrity, if the tax rate is raised by one penny, it would bring in $1.9 million, and Winston-Salem’s rate would still remain “in the middle of the group” in comparison to other larger cities in North Carolina.

The proposed budget allows for $301.5 million in operations, $35.5 million in debt services and $166.4 million in capital improvements.

Garrity is also proposing an increase in pay for city employees.

He is recommending a 1.5 percent increase for employees who are paid less than average for their positions as well as raising the city’s minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. City employees will also be eligible for a 1.5 to 3 percent “merit pay” increase based on their performance.

Under the proposed budget, there will also be changes in the amount of jobs.

The sanitation department will have to cut eight vacant positions as well as a vacant parking attendant position. The police department will add two more fingerprint examiners. The Fairgrounds will hire a senior crew coordinator.

The new budget will also require a 4.5 percent increase in water rates and a 6.7 percent increase in sewer rates.

The City Council Finance Committee will hold public workshops on June 3 at 4PM and June 9 at 4:30PM in room 239 of City Hall. City council members will attend these workshops to study the proposed budget, and residents of Winston-Salem who are interested in the proposed budget are welcome to attend.

The Finance Committee will hold a public hearing on June 5 at 7PM in room 230 of City Hall.

City council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on June 16 with the final proposal of the budget, and it will come to a vote. !

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