Chatham County

Chatham County budget growing, but not county taxes. How they're doing it

The Chatham County Board of Commissioners Commissions, Karen Howard, Mike Dasher, Diana Hales, Jim Crawford and Walter Petty, will host a public hearing Monday regarding the county’s zoning ordinance.
The Chatham County Board of Commissioners Commissions, Karen Howard, Mike Dasher, Diana Hales, Jim Crawford and Walter Petty, will host a public hearing Monday regarding the county’s zoning ordinance.

Growth hasn't overrun Chatham County, yet.

But it could help the Board of Commissioners spend more without raising taxes.

A million-dollar jump in education spending was one of the highlights of County Manager Renee Paschal's budget presentation Monday night.

The county can absorb this additional spending because of a projected 6 percent growth in both property tax and sales tax revenues. The overall proposed budget of $114 million grew by about 2 percent, Paschal said.

Last fall the board adopted a comprehensive plan to guide the budget. Paschal said that helped make make pulling the proposed spending plan together easier.

"The recently adopted Comprehensive Plan acknowledges the tremendous growth and opportunities knocking at our door, " Paschal said. "The proposed 2019 budget helps us move forward."

The tax rate of 62.81 cents per $100 of assessed property value means the owner of a $250,000 house would pay $1,570.25 in county property taxes next year.

The proposed budget contains additional money for increasing affordable housing options, improving long-term water and wastewater capacity in the region, ensuring that new school buildings meet energy-efficiency standards, and completing a countywide master plan for recreation and walking trails.

Teacher supplements

"I think it's well thought out," said Chair Diana Hales. "Our revenues balance out with expenditures, and we're still able to do a number of projects that have been on our list for a while. I think that's important. The comprehensive land-use plan for Chatham County is the driving document for how we're going to move forward making our budgets."

Chatham County Schools will spend $1,075,000 to increase teacher supplements and to continue “enhancement classes” like music, physical education, arts and world languages. Some of that money may be diverted in order to implement a state-mandated reduction in class sizes for grades K-3, depending on the outcome of a current court case dealing with class size.

If the school system does not have to fully fund the smaller class sizes, school officials can use up to $450,000 to begin transitioning salary supplements for licensed employees from a flat rate to a percentage based. Commissioners want to move supplements from fifth to third among adjoining counties.

To address affordable housing in the county, the commissioners are establishing the Affordable Housing Trust Fund with a $200,000 start. The money will be used to leverage other funds that can increase affordable housing options.

The county also wants to spend $58,000 to improve its online permitting portal.

The Sheriff's Office wants to purchase a new inmate management system to improve safety, security and reduce the possibility of errors in handling inmates.

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Two communities could see very slight tax increases to pay for additional fire protection.

The fire departments for the Silk Hope Fire District and the Parkwood Fire District asked for small fire tax increases. The Silk Hope Volunteer Fire Department is asking for a one-cent increase per $100 of assessed value in its fire tax rate, while Parkwood from Durham County, is seeking a 0 .6 cent increase per $100 of assessed value. For Silk Hope residents, that's about $27 more, while people covered by Parkwood would see and increase of about $17 per year.

Public hearings

Chatham County will hold two public hearings on the budget proposal, including one in Pittsboro (May 21, 6 p.m., Historic Chatham County Courthouse) and one in Siler City (May 22, 6 p.m., Town Hall).

Copies of the proposed budget are available at: www.chathamnc.org/annualbudgets Printed copies are at the three county library branches.





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