Maybe no tax increase? Supervisors will decide Friday


By Patsy Nicosia

Supervisors will pick their tax increase for 2023 Friday: 0 percent, 1.2 percent, or 2.5 percent.
Budget Officer Leo McAllister ran through the Finance Committee’s recommendations at a public hearing on the budget Monday.
Taxes under the tentative ’23 $89,730,310 budget will depend on how much of the $35 million fund balance they decide to use, Mr. McAllister told supervisors.
To keep taxes flat—the likeliest goal--they’ll need to use about $3.5 million.
A 1.2 percent tax increase would require $2 million from the fund balance; a 2.5 percent increase would require $1.7 million from the balance.
All three options also include using $500,000 from the $7.22 million Road Fund.
The 2022 adopted budget was $84,879,101, but through the end of October, spending totals $108,594,181.
Over the last six or seven years, said County Administrator Korsha Akumfi, supervisors have used about $2.1 million annually from the fund balance; last year, they used just over $1 million.
Initially, the county was looking at as much as a 9.32 percent increase in taxes.
Mr. McAllister and his team—Mr. Akumfi, Treasurer Mary Ann Wollaber-Bryan, and Budget Analyst Mark Southworth—carved off much of that by eliminating $3 million in building renovations and repairs, something Mr. McAllister said could be done through a bond or from the fund balance.
They also saved money by not funding all of the vacant county positions, Mr. McAllister said; it’s unlikely many—maybe none of them—will be filled by December 31, which means supervisors don’t need to include a full year’s salary and benefits.
Not included, though, is anything on refinancing the debt at the Public Safety Facility or anything for the Streambank Project. (See related story.)
Also missing are possible salary adjustments—raises—for departments recommended by consultants the Burke Group in order to make the pay more competitive with similar counties that supervisors expect to act on Friday.
On the revenue side, the Finance Committee recommends using $19.4 million in sales tax revenues—projected at $20.5 million.
Last year’s budget used $19.5 million from the sales tax and under the tentative budget, in 2023, an additional three percent--$590,711--will be shared with towns and villages.
“That’s a tough one,” Mr. McAllister said. “It’s a crap shoot on the sales tax. Is it going to continue increasing? No one knows. But we feel fairly comfortable with the $19.5 million figure.”