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Pasquotank OKs spending plan without tax hike

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By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Pasquotank County commissioners approved the county's 2018-19 budget Monday night, adopting a spending plan that includes a boost in school funding but no property tax increase.

Commissioners adopted the budget following a public hearing.

The bulk of the spending plan, which takes effect July 1, is the county's $48.2 million general fund. The general fund features $2.68 million more in spending than the current fiscal year; it covers contributions to schools, social services and public safety, among other services.

The budget leaves the county property tax rate at 77 cents per $100 in valuation, County Manager Sparty Hammett reported to commissioners. Each cent of the property tax rate generates about $312,000, according to county documents.

The single largest expense in next year’s budget is $11.4 million for the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools to spend on operations. That's up from about $11.2 million the county spent on ECPPS this year. The county will also fund $2.6 million in school-related capital projects, the largest of which is expected to be the replacement of the undersized, 30-year-old heating and cooling system at Northside Elementary School.

Overall, Pasquotank is providing ECPPS $1.48 million more than this year, but far less than the $15.8 million Superintendent Larry Cartner asked for last month. In seeking that amount, Cartner cited increased personnel expenses, increased contributions to charter schools, and almost $4 million in capital needs.

The approved budget also includes revenue from the quarter-penny sales tax increase that Pasquotank voters approved last month. Factored in the $2.6 million for school capital projects is $600,000 in projected revenues from the sales tax increase. The additional quarter-penny in sales tax will be levied starting in January, according to Hammett.

The approved budget also calls for Pasquotank to spend $440,450 on county employees. That includes about $265,590 for raises of $1,000 for all county employees, and $174,860 in increased health insurance premiums.

Other budget highlights include:

* $1.66 million toward operating costs for College of the Albemarle, plus $500,000 in capital projects, covering roof replacements, a new air handler, and other items. Those are the same amounts COA got this year.

* A roughly $550,000 increase to Pasquotank-Camden Emergency Medical Services, covering the cost of a new ambulance and remounting another ambulance, plus two new positions. EMS Director Jerry Newell reported the agency continues seeing high call volumes.

* A roughly $162,000 increase to the Pasquotank Department of Social Services, which includes one new position.

* A roughly $159,000 increase to Pasquotank-Camden Central Communications, including one new position.

* No changes in water rates. However, the budget incorporates revised tap fees and splits part of the fees into new “system development fees.” There’s no net impact to the most common residential meter connections, namely three-fourths-inch meters, which will still cost $2,500.  Total fees for larger meters will either drop or remain the same, according to the budget ordinance and an engineer’s report.

* No change in landfill fees.

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