Halifax County’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year will include an 8 percent market adjustment for employees and does not propose a tax increase.
County management staff unveiled the proposed financial plan to the board of commissioners Monday night.
County Manager Dia Denton told the board the market adjustment is the largest increase since she has been with the county. “We’re able to do it because of our growth,” she said.
The 8 percent adjustment matches the inflation rate as well as an increase in social security.
Assistant County Manager Christina Wells said the proposed $53,314,300 budget will appropriate $7,404,700 from the fund balance which will leave the county with $14,689,526 in unassigned fund balance — a figure that exceeds the board’s designated reserve of 22 percent.
The appropriated fund balance includes the following:
A $5,900,000 capital reserve fund
$200,000 for a detention center body scanner. The body scanner will be funded through fund balance with American Rescue Plan Act enabled funds.
$583,000 for a one-time employee bonus
$678,200 for Halifax Community College renovations for Americans with Disabilities Act compliance
$43,500 in outside agency requests
The other ARPA enabled projects which will be moved to the capital reserve fund are as follows:
Water and sewer infrastructure improvements — $3,600,000
4-H Rural Life Center renovations — $1,000,000
Conversion of the Farmer’s Market to a county vehicle and school bus garage — $1,100,000
Renovation of the old superior courtroom in the Historic Courthouse — $200,000
Denton noted in her presentation to the board concerning the ARPA-enabled funding the following points:
The only other way to pay for the water and sewer improvements would be through financing which would increase rates to customers.
The 4-H Rural Life Center improvements are tied to the former Halifax County Home and Tubercular Hospital turning 100 this year. “Renovating the facility will enhance recreational opportunities and preserve this building that sits on the National Register of Historic Places.”
The current Farmer’s Market on Highway 158 in Roanoke Rapids is not ideal for this activity, Denton’s presentation said. Instead, staff recommends moving the market to the Rural Life Center, which will free up the farmer’s market site to be converted into a new bus garage to service all three school districts’ buses and county vehicles.
The old superior courtroom has been used as a storage space for years for election equipment. The new storage building at animal control would house this equipment.
Staff recommends renovating the courtroom for the board’s meeting room and reconfiguring the current boardroom for information technology.
Denton said the proposed balance budget will accomplish the following:
Provide funding to each county department to maintain and support current service levels
Provide funding for recurring and critical capital in each county department
Provide funding for each local school district
Provide capital funding for each local district
Provide funding for contingencies
Absorb increased health benefit costs which have increased 17 percent and retirement which increased a fraction of under 1 percent
In addition to traditional school funding the board opted to use its Article 44 funding option for schools with all three districts and HCC each receiving $195,000.