ALEXANDER COUNTY, NC (June 5, 2019) – The Alexander County Board of Commissioners held a public hearing at their meeting on Monday, June 3rd to allow input on the proposed 2019-20 county budget. Aside from a brief discussion among County Manager Rick French and commissioners, no one from the general public spoke at the public hearing.
French presented the proposed 2019-20 county budget to commissioners at their May 20th meeting. The board also held a work session on Thursday, May 30th.
The proposed General Fund budget for fiscal year 2019-2020 totals $41,982,457, which includes a fund balance appropriation of $1,843,135. While the proposed budget does not include a property tax increase, it does include small fire tax increases for all eight fire departments, which would bring the average fire tax rate to $0.0606 per $100 valuation.
French also noted that the City of Hickory is raising water and sewer rates by 3.75 percent for the 2019-20 fiscal year. In addition, Alexander County will raise its sewer surcharge from $5 per month to $16.08 per month.
The budget also includes a number of fee increases for fire marshal permits and inspections, building permits and inspections, and zoning fees which will bring Alexander County’s fees more in line with neighboring counties while not negatively affecting future development.
French said that one of the most significant changes from the original proposed budget is a $279,149 increase in the allotment to Alexander County Schools, for a total of $6,800,000. The increase includes $45,000 for the CTE (Career & Technical Education) program at Alexander Central High School to support a public safety and firefighter training program.
Jeff Peal, Chairman of the Alexander County Board of Commissioners, believes the proposed budget is a good balance of addressing needs and making improvements.
“The budget process is never easy, but we’ve had good discussions about the many needs of our departments and outside agencies,” Peal stated. “It’s a balancing act as we try to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars while planning for the future of our great county.”
Proposed funding for the Alexander County Sheriff’s Office, which also includes detention and 911 communications, totals $7,262,397 plus an additional $831,483 for debt payments for the law enforcement and detention center. The proposed budget includes an increase of the minimum pay for deputies from $31,534 to $33,959 per year and for detention officers from $27,872 to $30,014. Part-time pay would also increase from $11.82 per hour to $14.08 per hour.
The proposed budget also includes the funding of four full-time firefighter positions, with additional incentives to the volunteer fire departments and rescue squad, for a total of $147,000.
Other items in the budget include a major water line project, the Bethlehem sewer project, as well as $150,000 in improvements at Dusty Ridge Park and Wittenburg Access Area and $100,000 for utility pole replacement at East Alexander Park and Bethlehem Park.
The 2019-20 budget ordinance is scheduled to be adopted on June 17 at 6:00 p.m. at the CVCC Alexander Center for Education (room #103).
Commission meetings are recorded and available for viewing on the county’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/alexandercountync. The meetings may also be viewed on the Alexander County Government Channel on Spectrum channel 192.