When planning for budget shortfalls due to the COVID19 pandemic, Macon County Manager Derek Roland took a conservative approach in predicting anticipated revenues. Roland cut county planned projects to accommodate for an anticipated loss in sales tax and property revenues.
During a mid-year budget review last Thursday, Roland reported that not only did the county not experience a revenue shortfall compared to the same time period the prior year, but instead Macon County and North Carolina as a whole has actually experienced revenue increases.
Sales Tax was budgeted at a level 5.2% below the amount originally budgeted for FY 20’ resulting in an original budget revenue loss of $1M for Macon County. Through the first four months of FY 21’ however, sales tax collections are up 16% over 2020 actuals in Macon County and 11% statewide. As a result of this trend, Macon County increased the sales tax revenue projections for the remainder of the year to the 2020 actual level.
Due to an increase in revenues at the mid-year review, Roland proposed county commissioners approve budget amendments fo capital expenditures totaling just under $2 million.
“Although much uncertainty remains for FY 22’, the $1.7M in additional revenue gained from a “booming yet fragile” economy enables us to restore capital funding to the priority areas of public safety and education,” said Roland. “It will enable us to begin working to identify and make recommendations for addressing inadequacies within our pay-scale in the coming fiscal year.”
Projects proposed and unanimously approved by Roland’s recommendation included:
The operational funding necessary to offset cost overruns within certain line items of the operating budget that are beyond our control and restore funding to non-profit agencies who have also played a critical role in helping Macon County combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Lastly, but most importantly the way I am proposing to allocate the $1.7M in additional revenue will leave us agile and in a position to again take drastic measures, without adversely impacting the county employees, in the event that we are looking at another “worst-case scenario” for FY22’,” said Roland.
The majority of the revenue increase will go towards capital expenditures and is not tied to the operating budget. An additional $911,259 in capital funding for Macon County will bring the county to $1,780,104 in FY 21’, which is in-line with capital funding levels from prior years.
“We will “make hay while the sun’s out” if you will….. With respect to these capital expenditures, accomplishing as many as we can while the revenue is here to support it, but at the same time we will remain agile and prepared to reduce the budget again in FY22’ should economic uncertainty related to COVID-19 prevail, without adversely impacting the operating budget,” said Roland.
Roland also proposed restoring capital funding to the school system to prior-year levels, which will allow Macon County Schools to complete needed capital projects to improve the schools. The community funding pool was originally reduced by 50 percent in the budget, however, with the budget surplus, Roland proposed restoring the line item to original levels.
The additional revenues will be allocated to the Sheriff’s Department to purchase the originally requested six new vehicles, as well as funding to complete the installation of in-car camera systems for all vehicles and body-cameras for Sheriff’s Office staff.
Macon County Emergency Management will now be able to purchase a new stretcher and lift as well as an ambulance remounting and EMS coordinator SUV.
The Macon County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the budget amendments proposed by Roland.