Pittsboro, NC – On June 20, 2016, the Chatham County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the fiscal year 2016-17 county budget of $107.5 million based on a property tax rate of 63.38 cents. This reflects a 1.19-cent property tax increase, the first tax increase since 2010-11.
For someone with a $100,000 home, the proposed tax increase would add about $11.90 per year to the property tax bill, or less than $1 per month if paid using monthly mortgage escrows. For a $500,000 home, the tax bill increase by about $59.50 per year.
A major increase in the budget results from the need to dedicate new revenue to three major facilities in the county’s Capital Improvement Plan:
- A new Health Sciences Building for Central Carolina Community College, slated to open in 2018, construction in 2017, $14.3 million
- A new elementary school in northeast Chatham, slated to open in 2021, $30.6 million
- An expansion of the planned new high school in the northeast from an initial capacity of 800 students to 1,000 students (maximum capacity of 1,200 students), slated to open in 2021, an additional $5 million in the CIP
The Board of Commissioners made a few minor adjustments to the proposed budget. The major addition is $63,845 for a pilot grants program for town recreation programs. Funds will be distributed on a $5 per capita basis for such items as town parks and recreation facilities, programs, equipment as well as matching funds and planning for larger grants.
Chatham County commission chairman Jim Crawford said, “Commissioner Diana Hales suggested the town recreation grants, something the county did many years ago. This is a great idea to collaborate with the towns to promote more options for physical activity for people of all ages.”
General operating funds in the budget includes several months of operations for the new Agriculture & Conference Center and a full year of operations for the new Joint School & County Garage, according to County Manager Renee Paschal. “We are lucky to have healthy growth in revenues to help cover these costs.”
Other major items in the budget proposed by the County Manager and approved by the Board of Commissioners include:
- A five-percent increase in funding for Chatham County Schools (an increase of $846,000 for current expense, an increase of $320,000 for capital outlay and $300,000 placed in contingency if the state approves pay raises).
- An appropriation of $221,766 for an almost full year of operations of the new Agriculture & Conference Center and $245,000 to fund a full year of operations for the new Joint County-Schools Bus Garage.
- A transfer of $936,219 from fund balance to open the new Animal Shelter in 2018-19, which would be one year early.
- A transfer of $161,157 from the Pittsboro Elementary roof project to a mobile pod for Northwood High, which will increase its capacity until a new high school is built. School officials believe the Pittsboro Elementary roof can still be funded as planned.
- A three percent salary increase for all county employees to help the county remain competitive in the region.
- An increase of 15 percent for employee health insurance, which is similar to increases that other localities and the private sector are experiencing.
- Funding for 10.5 new staff positions, with five of those assigned to the jail as mandated to implement new federal requirements.
The proposed county budget provides most of the details since few changes were made. It can be found at www.chathamnc.org and look for the Quick Links box at the top right of the page. The final adopted budget will be posted in the next few weeks.