By Richard Sullins | [email protected]
Lee County Executive Dr John Crumpton will unveil his proposed budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year to the Board of Commissioners on Monday, and he is expected to include a recommendation to cut the property tax rate by three and a half cents per $100 of property valuation. from July 1. But teachers who were hoping for an increase in their local county supplements this year will likely be disappointed again.
At their strategic planning meeting in January, the commissioners were unanimous in their desire to have a tax cut for the second consecutive year, made possible by the county’s economic growth since a wave of new industries began. to move here in 2019.
The budget plan proposal calls for reducing the property tax rate from the current 76 cents to 72.5 cents per $100 of property assessment. Last year, the commissioners reduced the rate from 77.5 cents to 76 cents.
There had been talk in some political circles for a tax cut as large as five cents, but the commissioners seem to have opted for a slightly smaller cut which gave them the option of increasing credits to a few departments only they see as high priority items for the coming year.
The big winner this year appears to be Central Carolina Community College, with a total budget increase of $1,243,205. This amount includes a special credit of $920,000 for the Moore Center operational for training needed by automaker VinFast next summer, as well as an additional $323,205 in current expense funds to pay for rising payroll costs for locally paid employees.
Lee County Sheriff’s Office and Sanford Area Growth Alliance to receive appropriations smaller than they asked for.
The sheriff’s office would receive an increase of $901,879 if the proposed budget is approved. Still, the increase is well below the $7 million total requested by Acting Sheriff Brian Estes, and he will face some tough choices about what will be funded this year. Estes had requested four additional deputies, a dedicated narcotics investigation sergeant, 14 AR-15-style rifles and 14 new Dodge Durangos.
SAGA also saw a reduction in its budget request of $355,163, plus an additional $42,500 for a website redesign. The proposed budget recommends fully funding the website project, but slightly reduces SAGA’s overall funding to $339,020. SAGA, a public-private partnership that has served as a local economic development operation for several years, has recently had incredible success in recruiting new industries to locate and/or expand locally.
And for the second consecutive year, there will be no money in the budget to fund the $1.6 million requested by Lee County schools for local supplements for teachers and classified staff. In previous committee meetings this year and budget workshops held in the spring, this issue has remained a partisan matter, with all four Republicans opposing county dollar funding of local supplements and all three Democrats supporting increasing these supplements.
Last year, the county granted Lee County Schools $378,246 to their current spending fund to be used for whatever purpose it saw fit. Commissioners are doing the same this year, although for a lower amount of $320,000.
The county’s total budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year is $90,838,408, an increase of more than $6 million from last year’s spending and revenue plan. Monday’s commissioners’ meeting will be at 6 p.m. at the McSwain Center on Tramway Road.