With the 2013-2014 budget process in sight, Ashe County Finance Officer Sandra Long presented the Ashe County Board of Commissioners with a mid-year budget review for 2012-2013, and reported spending and collections are on track.
According to Long, the mid-year review allows the board of commissioners to see “where they stand,” to help determine next year’s budget.
“I just put the figures up there and let them draw their own conclusions,” said Long.
The county’s general fund, which covers everything from the county’s airport to the parks and recreations department, started with year with a budget of approximately $32.8 million, and as of Dec. 31 (half of the budget year), spent $14.8 million (45.27 percent of the county’s general funds).
This leaves approximately $17.9 million, or 54.73 percent, of the general fund for the rest of the budget year that ends in June.
“Looking at the 50 percent mark (the midway point of the budget year), the entire general fund is less that half of the overall budget,” said Long.
The largest expenditures for the general fund to date are social services at $3.7 million, education at $2.3 million and the debt service at $1.6 million.
Each of the 20 funds under the general fund have expended less than half of their overall budgets by the middle of the year, except for the human services fund and the soil conservation fund.
Another topic for discussion during the budget meeting was the county’s low tax rate.
According to Long, 89 counties in North Carolina have a higher tax rate than Ashe County’s current rate of 40 cents. This is 22.15 cents below state average.
During the presentation, Long noted the county expects to take in $874,084 more in taxes for the 2013 budget year than the 2008 budget year.
Ad Valorem taxes have also increased. In 2009-2010, Ashe County took in $13.7 million in real-estate and auto taxes from July through January. In the 2012-2013 budget year, Ashe County took in $$14.2 million in real-estate and auto taxes during the same seven-month period.
Long also explained the county’s remaining debts in detail to the BOC.
Ashe County still owes on the following debts: the Wachovia Comprehensive High School Loan until 2016, the Westwood Elementary School Loan until 2017, Library expansion loan until 2018, and two loans to the jail and law enforcement center until 2028.
For the 2012-2013 budget year, the county paid $3.2 million on these five loans, with $749,595 being paid towards interest.
Long also reported the current expenses for the jail from July through December averaged $23,889 over revenues during that six-month period.
According to Long, Ashe County Manager Dr. Pat Mitchell will present the county’s proposed budget for the 2013-2014 year to the Ashe County BOC on May 20.