Jackson County Commissioners,
The proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2023-2024 General Fund Annual Budget for Jackson County is in the amount of $88,106,428.
This proposal constitutes an approximate increase of 5.94% ($4,938,651) over the current FY 2023 amended budget. All proposals within the general fund are based upon a budget with a tax rate of $0.38 per $100 of value.
The proposed FY 23-24 budget contains personnel recommendations. The recommendations include:
1. One-step (3.15%, 3.00% or 1.5% based on career path) increase for all employees.
2. A 3% Cost of Living adjustment for all employees
3. Worker’s Compensation and Liability Insurance.
It is recommended that all employees move up one step in the current grade and step plan. This action is necessary to maintain the career path system. Approximately $1,011,788 is budgeted to implement the one-step increase and the 3% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) included in the proposal.
We had several requests for salary reclassifications and new positions. The classification and compensation study that was approved by the Board on March 15, 2022 and implemented effective January 1, 2022 should allow for the retention of existing personnel. The salary plan will also allow for the recruitment of both inexperienced and experienced personnel. I have not recommended any salary reclassifications in this proposal.
The following other personnel recommendations are included in this proposal for a total of 15.5 new positions.
1. Housekeeping- 1 Housekeeper to be used for multiple facilities.
2. Grounds – 1 General Utility Worker III for new Dillsboro Complex facility.
3. Sheriff- 4 Road Patrol Deputies and 1 Detective for drug enforcement.
4. Jail- 1 Detention Officer.
5. CodeEnforcement-1 50% time Administrative Assistant II to be used in Cashiers during the new software implementation.
6. Green Energy – 1 50% time Programming Manager.
7. Animal Control- I Animal Shelter Attendant.
8. Social Services – 2 Social Worker IA&T positions to manage caseloads and to implement Safety Organized Practice, a new software system to achieve better outcomes for our children and families. These positions are to transition into a new pilot program through the State’s Family First Preventative Services Act.
9. Social Services Extend the IMC II-Support Specialist position one additional year. The position is already budgeted and is cost shared with the State.
10. Health – eliminated a Health Educator position that worked solely in Haywood County under a contract with Smart Start.
11. Recreation – 3.5 positions are included for the Aquatics Facility. They will be hired on a staggered schedule beginning January 1, 2024. The positions include a Site Manager, Head Lifeguard, and 1.5 Administrative Assistant II positions.
There are capital and capital improvement needs in the amount of $2,064,846 that should be addressed in FY 23-24. The recommendations are as follows:
Highlights under this category include computers, servers, printers, software, garage equipment, cleaning equipment, grounds maintenance equipment, recreation equipment, law enforcement radios, cameras, and emergency communication equipment. It is being recommended that the majority of these expenses be delayed until after the audit is complete.
Highlights under this category include $252,000 for five new vehicles at the Sheriffs Office, and $60,000 for painting and decal updates. $70,000 for two Code Enforcement vehicle replacements; $104,724 for Ground Maintenance two replacement vehicles; $37,300 for Cooperative Extension new vehicle; and $30,000 for one Social Service replacement vehicle.
Highlights under this category include Cashiers Code Enforcement painting, replacement of one HVAC unit and painting for the Cashiers Recreation Center. Repairs to the jail areas of booking, cabinets, and kitchen shelving. Two HVAC units and a generator are also included for the Jail. Other improvements include Cullowhee Recreation Center building updates, Fairview Concession road paving, repairs to the Sylva Pool, Mark Watson Park paving, Dept on Aging roof repairs, and road improvements and office unit at the Green Energy Park . Also included is a match for Hwy 107 sidewalk construction and the Pinnacle Park Master Plan.
NOTE: It is proposed that these projects be funded from two different sources – $2,124,000 from General Fund and $370,300 from CPR Fund.
CURRENT FY 2018-2022 FACILITY CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PLAN & NEW FY 2024-2028 FACILITY CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PLAN
The adopted FY 2018-2022 Facility Capital Improvement Plan sets aside funds for three major facility projects: 1. Health Department/ One Stop Permitting Center 2. Animal Rescue Center 3. Justice Center Renovations. The Health Department / One Stop Permitting Center has been completed. The Animal Rescue Center is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2023. Schematic design work for the Justice Center Renovations will begin during FY 23-24 to include the newly elected Sheriff, Clerk of Court and Register of Deeds. The FY 2023-2027 Facility Capital Improvement Plan will be completed in early FY24. Four projects are approved to move forward while working on the new plan. They are as follows:
1. The Aquatics Center is under construction and should be complete by the spring of 2024.
2. The domestic violence shelter design will be completed during in the fall of 2023.
3. Whittier-Qualia Park project site development plans will be completed during the fall of2023.
4. The Glenville-Cashiers Splash Pad project site development plans will be completed during the fall of 2023.
JACKSON COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION
Current ExpenseIt is proposed to allocate $9,417,613 (a 4%- $362,216 increase) to the public schools for FY 23-24. This includes $7,928,547 for current operations, $147,605 for PILT, $880,950 in teacher supplements and $460,511 for counselors.
40% of the Article 40 (1⁄2 cent) sales tax and 60%of the Article 42 (1⁄2 cent) sales tax go to public schools for capital. In FY 22-23 the following items are proposed to be funded: Capital Outlay: $335,000
Capital Outlay-Technology: $400,000
Capital Outlay- One to One: $320,700
Capital Outlay – Maintenance: $375,000- Preventive maintenance
Capital Outlay – Security: $25,000
Capital Outlay – Masterplan: $130,000
It is recommended to budget an additional $2,504,682 for public school capital expenditures in FY 23-24 out ofArticles 40 and 42 sales taxes. It is also recommended to budget an additional $2,671,043 out of the Article 46 sales tax fund in FY 23-24 to be used for educational purposes. These sales tax funds, future grants and available lottery proceeds will dictate the outcome of the Public Schools’ FY 2024-2028 Facility Capital Improvement Plan.
SOUTHWESTERN COMMUNITY COLLEGE (SCC)
It is proposed to allocate $2,635,757 (a 4%- $101,375 increase) to SCC in current operations for FY 23-24.
The proposed general maintenance capital outlay appropriation is $154,850 for Fire Alarm system upgrades and $50,000 for incidental repairs.
JACKSON COUNTY LIBRARIES: FONTANA REGIONAL LIBRARY SYSTEM
It is proposed to allocate $1,342,101 (a 4%- $51,619 increase) to the Fontana Regional Library System to operate both the Jackson County Library and the Albert Carlton Library.
There are many agencies that have requested funds from Jackson County. I have divided these discussions into three categories:
1. Safety- Fire, Forestry, Rescue, EMS.
2. Community Development Centers (CDC) & Non-Profits. 3. Contingencies.
Safety – Fire, Forestry, Rescue, EMS
It is proposed that Canada, Savannah, Balsam and Qualla Volunteer Fire Departments and the Glenville – Cashiers & Jackson County Rescue Squads receive a 4% increase in allocation. Matching funds will be available for equipment purchased under grant funding.
Sylva Fire Department is being funded at $1,070,308. This amount includes a debt reduction of $45,158.17, then a 4% increase. This will enable the department to have paid members on staff 24/7. Mutual aid is provided to other departments within the County. The proposed funding amount provides enough funding for 8 full-time fire personnel. Since this is a Town department, the Town of Sylva can choose to add additional personnel by adding Town funds to the operations.
Cullowhee Fire Department is being funded at $1,103,480. This amount includes a debt reduction of $15,750, then a 4%increase. This will enable the department to continue having paid members on staff 24/7. Mutual aid is provided to other departments within the County.
It is proposed that the Forestry Service receive funding of $99,656 as requested. This represents a $9,459 decrease.
A debt payment of $350,000 is being recommended for a new Glenville-Cashiers Rescue Squad Facility at a cost of $4,500,000.
CDC & Non-Profits
It is proposed that Community Development Center funding to all 14 centers remain at current FY 22-23 levels.
It is proposed that most non-profits be funded at the current FY 22-23 levels. An increase is proposed for Community Table and Cullowhee Revitalization to bring them back to the level prior to the Covid-19 Pandemic.
There are multiple contingencies recommended in the proposed budget. They are as follows:
1. $399,637 in contingency for general purposes.
2. $1,172,707 for equipment purchases. This is part of the overall equipment budget discussed earlier that can be delayed until the audit is received.
3. $25,000 for internship/ work programs.
AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT (ARPA)/OPIOID SETTLEMENT FUNDS
Remaining and future funds in these programs will be expended for programs to be decided upon on a case by case basis.
SPECIAL FUND HIGHLIGHTS
NOTE: These funds are separate operating entities from the general ji111d budget. The general fund budget includes transfers to some of these other funds in the amount of $11,651,218 to support capital projects, recreation and conservation, debt service, the green energy park, economic development, revaluation and school capital reserve. There are additional personnel and capital recommendations in the following summaries.
SOLID WASTE ENTERPRISE FUND
The Solid Waste FY23-24 proposed operating budget is $5,212,822. This proposal constitutes an approximate increase of 1.69%, ($86,776) over the current FY 22-23 amended budget. This enterprise fund is funded completely from fees collected for services. Employees within this Fund will receive a one-step pay increase and a 3% cost of living adjustment. There are no major operational changes proposed for FY23-24.
I am currently not proposing an increase in availability fees for the operation. Escalating energy costs are dramatically impacting our budget. Our current contracts have fuel escalator clauses. All of our contracts are currently out for bid. Bid results will dictate future level of service and rates.
EMERGENCY TELEPHONE (E911) FUND
The E91 l FY 23-24 proposed operating budget is $314,070. This proposal is the same level as the current FY 22-23 amended budget. These operations are funded completely through E91 l fees. There are no major operational changes proposed for FY 23-24.
REAL PROPERTY REVALUATION FUND
The proposed FY23-24 revaluation operating budget is $600,500. This proposal constitutes a 20.5% increase over current year operations. Employees within this Fund will receive a one-step pay increase and a 3% cost of living increase. This is the third year of the four-year revaluation cycle that began during FY21-22. Contracted services have increased for oversight in the revaluation process. There are no major operational changes proposed for FY23-24.
GREEN ENERGY FUND
The FY23-24 proposed budget is $331,516. This proposal constitutes an increase 4.93% ($15,586) in the funding over current FY22-23 budget. Employees within this Fund will receive a one-step pay increase and a 3% cost of living adjustment. There are no other major operational changes proposed for FY23-24.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT FUND
The FY 23-24 proposed budget is $195,608. This proposal constitutes an approximate increase of 11.16% ($19,642) over the current FY 22-23 amended budget. The employee within this Fund will receive a one-step pay increase and a 3% cost of living adjustment. There are no other major operational changes proposed for FY23-24.
FIRE TAX FUND
This Fund includes both the Highlands Fire & Rescue Operations and the Cashiers-Glenville Volunteer Fire Department.
The Highlands Fire & Rescue proposed FY 23-24 budget is $84,000. This proposal constitutes the same level of funding from current FY22-23. The current fire tax rate of $0.0272 per $100 value will provide the revenues necessary to cover expenses.
The Cashiers-Glenville Volunteer Fire Department proposed FY 23-24 budget is $1,844,634. This proposal constitutes the same level of funding from the current FY22-23 amended budget. The current fire tax rate of$0.0294 per $100 value will provide the revenues necessary to cover expenses.
This category includes other funds such as the Capital Reserve Fund, School Capital Reserve Fund (19 & 21), Economic Development Fund (23, 42 & 64), Community Development Fund, Law Enforcement Fund, Conservation Preservation Recreation Fund, Debt Service Fund, Clean Water Revolving Fund, Airport Authority Fund and all active funds.
Jackson County operates many services that rely on fees to offset the cost of operations. These fee schedules apply to both general fund and other fund operations. The fee and r ate schedule includes the following: 1. Mileage reimbursement rate. 2. Hospital/ Dental Insurance Rates. 3. Recreation Center Fees and Charges, Pool Fees and Charges. 4. Senior Center Participant Fee Schedule. 5. Permitting and Code Enforcement Fees. 6. Planning Fees. 6. Health Department Fees. 7. Transit Fees and eight. Solid Waste Fund Fees.
It is recommended that adjustments be made to the following fee schedules:
1. Mile rate is recommended to increase to the 2023 IRS rate of 65.5 cents per mile.
2. Hospital/ Dental Rates – Jackson County’s contribution for employees will remain the same.
3. Solid Waste Availability Fee recommendations may remain the same.
4. Other minor changes in departmental fee and rate schedules are included in this proposal.
The public hearing is scheduled for June 6, 2023 at 5:55 pm in regards to the proposed budget. The public will be able to examine the proposed budget on the County’s website and hard copies will be available for inspections at the Administration and Finance Departments. The budget is tentatively scheduled to be approved at the Commissioners’ June 20, 2023 meeting, after the Board has had an opportunity to make any final adjustments.
In closing, I would like to extend my appreciation to all County employees who work extremely hard to provide the necessary services that make Jackson County a great place to live. I also extend my thanks to the department heads, elected officials and other representatives for their cooperation in fashioning their budget requests to the required specifications and timelines. And last – but by no means least – I would like to thank Finance Director Darlene Fox and her staff for their tireless effort and attention to detail over the budget development process.
Jackson County Manager