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Draft of county budget keeps tax rate level

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OXFORD — Granville County residents would see no increase in their tax rate under the budget proposed Monday night by the Board of County Commissioners — keeping flat at 84 cents per $100 of valuation.

The $68 million proposed budget would be a 4.6% decrease from the previous year’s amended budget, but a 0.5% increase over the budget originally proposed last year. It is balanced by pulling about $2.8 million from the county’s savings. 

“Due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the efforts to recover from it, the ability to forecast the local or state’s economy with any meaningful level of reliability is somewhat impossible,” County Manager Michael Felts wrote in a budget message to commissioners. “County staff believe during times of uncertainty it is necessary to retain as much financial flexibility as possible.” 

Under the current proposal, funding for social services would fall by more than 22%, dropping to $7.5 million, because the state is making a shift toward “paying some funding directly to the vendors rather than passing the funding through the county,” said County Manager Michael Felts.

Likewise, funding for construction projects has dropped by 46.9%, and recreation funding by 47.3%.

Other areas which would see decreases in funding under the proposed budget include the board of elections, animal management, emergency management and various cooperative extension services.

The Board of Commissioners itself would see funding increase to $323,686, an overall growth of 21.83%. The sheriff's department budget would grow 19% to more than $7.9 million.

Funding for veterans services would grow by 10.8% as the department aims to provide more services. The information technology department would see its current budget nearly doubled, with funding increasing to $629,778, mostly due to reclassifying budget items from previous years. 

Soil conservation, a new addition to the budget, would get $85,600.

Education, which accounts for 37% of the budget under the new proposal, would see funding for Granville county schools drop by 0.45% when compared to the 2019-20 amended budget. Funding for Vance-Granville Community College would remain the same at $780,924.

Fees for reinspections would be raised, with the second trip costing $150 and a third $300. The ABC permit licensing inspection fee would grow as well, rising to $237.

The proposed budget also includes fees for fire alarm review and inspection, with costs ranging from $65 to $520 dictated by the square footage of the area examined.

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for June 1.