Harnett, Chatham and Moore approve budgets

Jun. 30, 2013 @ 05:02 AM

With the new fiscal year beginning Monday, Lee County’s neighboring counties have all finished debating and approved their 2013-2014 budgets.

Harnett County approved its budget Thursday night, maintaining its property tax rate of 72.5 cents per $100 valuation, according to Harnett County Manager Tommy Burns.

“It was a tough budget, but we got through it,” he said.

The county did give the Harnett County Schools an increase of $250,000 and there were no cost-of-living adjustments or changes to health care for the county employees, Burns said.

The county just eliminated its economic development department  — including a director, assistant director and administrative assistant — in this year’s budget, which will be continued in the 2013-2014 year, Burns said.

“We did away with that in this current budget,” he said. “We eliminated that department and assigned those economic development duties to the county manager’s office. … In total savings, it was roughly $302,000 for the county.”

Chatham County approved its $92.6 million budget in mid-June, according to Chatham County Director of Community Relations Debra Henzey, which includes a 4 percent increase from the current year’s budget. The property tax remained at 62.19 cents.

“The (Chatham County Board of) Commissioners did not make any big revisions to what the manager proposed, but the budget includes some big things.”

The budget includes a 3 percent salary increase for all employees, 4 percent increase to Central Carolina Community College and $21.8 million to the Chatham County schools. With regard to public safety, Henzey said the budget will include $600,000 for the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office to staff the new jail and nearly $100,000 for fur new telecommunicators in the 911 call center.

Moore County’s $128 million budget was approved earlier this month and the property tax rate — 46.5 cents per $100 valuation — remained the same, according to Moore County Manager Wayne Vest.

“I would say this is a typical budget for us,” he said. “No one major project or expenditure, just pretty typical.”

Maintaining the budget without a property tax increase has been a priority, Vest said, because of the static sales and property tax rates in recent years.

“The proposed budget provides a fiscally sound and responsible blueprint for administering the revenues and expenditures for fiscal year 2014,” Vest wrote in a budget presentation. “It allows for the continued operations of the county and for providing the highest level of services in an efficient and effective manner.”

The Lee County Board of Commissioners approved its $63.7 million budget last week, which included a 3 cent property tax decrease.