Forsyth County Executive Dudley Watts recommends a budget for 2022-23 with no tax increases and a 6.2% increase in spending.
If approved, the county would give Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools $155.2 million toward the school system’s current spending budget.
This is $7.3 million less than the $162.4 million requested by the system. The amount is about $4 million more than schools receive in the current fiscal year, and $11.4 million more than the system got in the original 2021 budget- 2022.
The county tax rate would remain at 67.78 cents for every $100 of taxable property.
The county’s budget would total $531.2 million, an increase of $31 million from the 2021-22 enacted budget and $27.8 million more than the 2021-22 budget as it stood. amended to reflect increased sales tax revenue.
Watts told commissioners during the budget presentation on Thursday that tackling inflation will be one of the biggest challenges in the year ahead.
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“That’s at a 40-year high,” Watts said. “Where does it go and what happens to federal monetary policy are all things we will deal with.”
The other big challenge will be supply chain issues that are forcing county officials to scramble to acquire the basic items needed to run county government – whether it’s hand sanitizer or cars. patrol for sheriff’s deputies.
So far, Watts said, the county has had no problem keeping construction projects on track.
“When you’re not able to get a key piece of construction done within a construction timeframe, it creates challenges with everything else in the project,” Watts said.
Watts is proposing a $5.2 million increase in expenses for the sheriff’s office, from $64.1 million to $69.3 million, partially offset by an increase in revenue of $750,000.
The main driver of increased expenses for the Sheriff’s Office has been increased personnel costs.
Other net increases of over $1 million include social services, up $1.4 million, and general services, up $1.3 million.
On the revenue side, sales tax revenue continues to be a bright spot in county finances. Budget 2022-2023 proposes a 10% increase in sales tax revenue, which will rise from $93 million to $102 million.
But while property tax revenue growth is only forecast to increase by 3%, these taxes are still expected to boost revenue by $8.5 million in the coming year.
The proposed budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year shows the county has 2,224 full-time positions and 267 part-time positions. The number of full-time jobs will increase by 11 and the number of part-time jobs will decrease by three.
But Watts said the biggest challenge is filling vacancies: The county has 400 vacancies, including 36 in the Economic Services Division of the Department of Human Services and 76 in the jail.
To maintain a competitive salary, the county hired a consultant to review the county’s salary and employee classification plan. The budget includes $5.9 million to effect all salary increases recommended as a result of the review.
Here are the next steps for the county in its budget cycle:
• A detailed budget review begins at 9:00 a.m. on June 2.
•A public hearing on the budget, during which residents can give their comments, will take place on June 6 at 2 pm at the Government Centre. Those wishing to comment remotely can call 336-422-1200 at 1:45 p.m. on the day of the meeting.
• Budget workshops will be held on June 7 and 8 at 9:00 a.m.
• A special meeting, where the Commissioners may possibly adopt the budget, will take place on June 9 at 2 p.m.