Craven County staff is fine-tuning its proposed 2013-14 budget, which should be presented to commissioners on May 20.
“It’s not going to be an exciting budget,” said Jack Veit, county manager. “It’s more one right now of maintenance, keeping the status quo, keeping our heads above water with changes we can’t control.”
There is not a lot of deviation from the previous year, Veit said.
Before there can be a real prediction of whether the budget will include a tax increase on the current rate of 47 cents per $100 in property value, the county has to take into consideration the revenue it gets from other sources and wait to see what the General Assembly does, Veit said.
“A budget tends to mirror growth or shrinkage in government,” Veit said, and both he and Rick Hemphill, assistant county manager and finance director, both see little of either in 2014.
Hemphill said: “Sales tax revenue is fairly flat and we’re not looking to pick up much next year, but I don’t see a tax increase. I don’t think there will be one.”
He did say the county would have to pay for some additional items in 2013-14.
“We have to fund the state unemployment the legislature passed, which will cost the county about $125,000, but most things from them are still up in the air,” Hemphill said. “The motor vehicle tax and tag has been delayed for two months, so we have to go back and make some adjustments for that.”
The county is saving a little bit of money on debt service funding with a recent refinancing, Hemphill said.
Other than cuts recently announced for the Craven County Department of Social Services as a result of state and federal funding changes, Hemphill and Veit said no budget-related county staff layoffs are anticipated with the proposed budget.
Veit will formally present the budget during the May 20 commissioners meeting, and the board has scheduled budget work sessions for May 21 and May 24.
“Hopefully, if trends are as last year, we’ll have a 98 percent model with all the hard twisting already done,” he said.
That leaves close scrutiny of what is presented, plus decisions on special appropriations, as the main job for commissioners.
Craven County’s tax rate dropped about a quarter of a cent last year as part of the property revaluation process. The next property revaluation is scheduled for Jan. 1, 2016 and will affect property values for the 2017 budget year.