JEFFERSON-Ashe County’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2016-17 does not include an increase to the property tax rate.
Ashe County Manager Sam Yearick told county commissioners Monday morning the tax rate is proposed to remain at $.43 per $100 valuation. In terms of personnel, the budget proposes a 2 percent pay increase for county employees.
“This budget accomplishes a lot with limited revenue increases,” Yearick said to the board during a first reading of the budget.
Included in the proposed budget for debt service is $400,000 originating from a change in sales tax distribution law enacted in the state’s 2015-17 budget bill. These funds are required to be spent on economic development, community colleges or public education and have not yet been designated for a specific purpose by the county. Pending legislation, however, could change this.
Other budget highlights include funding of the Ashe County School System at $4.6 million in current expense. This includes $100,000 in capital outlay, $118,072 in technology funds and $5,000 for the pool at Ashe County Middle School. Wilkes Community College is funded at $376,000 for operations.
Ashe Memorial Hospital is funded $500,000, which is the third – and final – installment of a very successful arrangement between the hospital and the county. These funds come from a quarter of one percent sales tax passed by county voters two years ago.
The Appalachian Regional Library system is funded at $429,150 and Appalachian District Health Department is funded at $439,068. The proposed budget includes $275,976 in contingency funds, $25,976 of which is anticipated to be needed to implement a backup 911 plan required by the state.
Fire tax rates remain unchanged for all fire departments.
An appropriation of $50,000 is added to provide the Fire Association with the funds necessary to finance a fire training center. The actual amount needed is not known at this time, so $50,000 is an estimate that will be refined when the actual amount is known, said Yearick.
As in previous years, Yearick said Ashe County’s financial house is in order.
“We have a very strong financial accountability in the county,” said Yearick to the board. “There has been really good stewardship of the funds and you should be really proud of that.”
Reach Jesse Campbell at 336-846-7164.