Up $11 million from 2022, no increase in tax rate
Dare County property owners will see no increase in property tax rates this year under County Manager Bobby Outten’s proposed Fiscal Year 2023 General Fund budget of $123,964,551. That spending plan reflects about an $11.3 million increase over the adopted 2022 budget and includes a number of new positions as well as an increase in funding for the Dare County Schools.
Roughly a third of the General Fund budget is dedicated to public safety, with another 20 percent earmarked for Dare County Schools operations, said Outten during his May 2 budget presentation to the Dare Board of Commissioners. A public hearing on the proposal has been scheduled for May 16.
The General Fund tax rate will remain at 40.05 cents per $100 of assessed value, meaning that a property owner with a home assessed at $500,000 will pay roughly $2,000 toward county operations for the upcoming fiscal year if commissioners adopt the budget as proposed. Dare County’s new tax base of $17.085 billion is up 1.01 percent from Fiscal Year 2022, which ends on June 30.
Sales tax revenue for 2023 is projected to be up 3.75 percent over 2022, with occupancy tax revenue projected to be up 1.0 percent over 2022 numbers.
As for the county’s contribution to school operations, the manager’s proposed budget includes a $1.45 million increase over last year’s contribution of $25.3 million, representing an increase of 6.07 percent. Teacher supplements will make up $250,000 of that increase.
The Dare County Sheriff’s Office will see $122,500 in additional dollars for increased operating costs. The budget also funds the following new positions: three telecommunicator positions, two EMS lieutenants for a total of eight EMS positions that are part of the EMS staffing expansion plan, a transportation driver, a facilities maintenance technician and a grounds maintenance crew leader.
The spending plan also includes about $2.2 million for a 5 percent cost-of-living pay adjustment for full-time and part-time employees who are eligible for benefits. In addition, it funds $500,000 for a salary study currently underway to address high turnover rates among county employees. Outten noted at the meeting that currently, 7.54 percent of county positions are vacant while the county has a turnover rate of 13.48 percent.
In the recycling department, $275,000 has been added to contract out for the annual large item pick up. Outten said that moving forward, the county is going to use private contractors as it did this year “simply because we don’t have the staffing and the resources to do it as we’ve done in the past.”
Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) items include $850,000 earmarked for lighting at the athletic fields behind First Flight High and Middle Schools, $500,000 set aside for Dare County Detention Center renovations and $173,340 toward Dare MedFlight maintenance. The replacement of the Manteo and Buxton Public Works facilities, at a cost of $30.9 million, is also part of the county’s five-year CIP.