Catawba County News
Recommended Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Maintains Current Tax Rate, Plans for Uncertainty Due to COVID-19
Published: May 11, 2020
Catawba County Manager Mick Berry has recommended a budget of $242M for Fiscal Year 2021, which maintains the current property tax rate of $0.575 per $100 of valuation. The recommendation represents a 4.1 percent decrease in the total budget and $3.3M less revenue than anticipated.
Due to the impact of COVID-19 on revenues from sales tax, property tax and building services, revenue projections have been downsized but still reflect modest growth. The General Fund, which is $210.85M of the total recommended budget, represents a 1.5 percent increase in revenue over the current year.
The full budget recommendation may be viewed online at https://www.catawbacountync.gov/county-services/budget-management/2020-21-budget/.
The Manager’s recommendation focuses on maintaining core services and long-term investments in economic growth in line with the Board of Commissioners’ strategic plan. The budget scales back several planned expenditures and defers a series of spending decisions to later in the year when the fiscal impact of COVID-19 may be more fully known.
Highlights of the budget recommendation include the following:
- Education: Supporting local public education following districts’ funding priorities with a 2 percent increase in total per-pupil funding, $5.5M in school capital funding, and a fourth-year $1.3M commitment to the collaborative K-64 initiative.
- Parks: Enhancing quality of life and access to the outdoors by continuing the County park system’s current six-day-per-week operating schedule; allocating $800K for Mountain Creek Park, including equipment and staffing needed for the park’s planned Summer 2021 opening.
- Economic Development: Fostering a positive business climate by maintaining competitive tax rate; creating jobs and tax base through a $3.4M investment in Trivium Corporate Center; and allocating set-aside funds to support employer recruitment through potential speculative building partnerships and new business park opportunities.
“Catawba County’s strong tradition of fiscal stewardship, conservative budgeting and collaborative leadership has enabled us to enter this new fiscal year from a position of financial strength,” said Berry. “This allows us to maintain our high level of service to citizens and continue the Board’s economic investment strategies to grow our tax base and create local jobs.
“With the international response to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis that is still unfolding, the County’s budget was developed with even more extensive work with departments, education and agency partners and guided by the Board,” Berry continued. “I am recommending a careful yet cautiously optimistic approach that gives us the flexibility to adapt as we navigate the current environment of economic uncertainty.”
The Commissioners are holding budget hearings for County departments and outside agencies Thursday, May 21, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the Board of Commissioners’ Meeting Room at the Catawba County Justice Center in Newton. These hearings are open to the public.
On Thursday, May 28, the Commissioners will hold a Public Hearing to accept citizen comments regarding the recommended budget beginning at 7:00 p.m. in the Board of Commissioners’ Meeting Room at the Catawba County Justice Center in Newton.
The Commissioners are scheduled to vote on budget adoption at their Monday, June 1 Board meeting, which will begin at 7:00 p.m. in the Board of Commissioners’ Meeting Room at the Catawba County Justice Center.