Randolph County budget holds property tax rate steady

Despite $3 million shortfall, commissioners won’t raise taxes

ASHEBORO — The Randolph County Board of Commissioners plans to hold property tax rates steady, after a series of meetings during the last two weeks brought commissioners to a total budget of just below $192 million.

The rate will remain at $0.50 per $100 valuation thanks to growth in the tax base as well as higher than anticipated sales tax collection.

The county had to work around a $3.3 million Medicaid Hold-Harmless shortfall from the prior year and, instead of raising taxes, budgeteers aimed to redirect some recurring financial resources to the general fund and tap into other one-time funding sources to cover that cost.

According to county Financial Director Will Massie, the priorities for the budget included a 3.2% cost of living adjustment for employees, funding for 32 new positions and a $2 million increase in educational funding, which encompasses around 29% of the total budget.

There were also concerns raised about the uncertainty with state funding.

“We’ll see where we go,” said board chairman Darrell Frye. “The General Assembly is still in session down there and subject to do anything, at any time.”

“There’s some risks and rewards in this budget,” Massie said. “One reason to present that now is for us all to get comfortable on the risks that are there and to understand that what happens next year, that some of the decisions this board can make on this budget might be for one year or it might be for multiple years, it just depends on how some of the things shake out.”

Final adoption of the budget is planned for June 17.

In other business, the board approved a one-time bonus for physically active employees in the county health plan.

“To keep our momentum that we’ve got going with our wellness programs, we’d like to reward those employees that are fully participating in our programs,” said assistant county manager Will Massie. “This will make it clear to our employees that really do care about their health, that we want to reward them for that.”

According to Massie, the county has enough savings in the department budgets to give a one-time bonus of $600.

The board also approved the setting aside of $500,000 of general fund fund balance as a rainy day fund for a year with unexpectedly high healthcare claims.

A request for $550,000 from Randolph County Schools superintendent Stephen Gainey was approved to cover the demolition of Braxton Craven Middle School and a contract with a consulting group to assess the school system’s attendance zones, student assignment processes and identify areas of population growth in order to assess where future schools may be needed.

Gainey said he the demolition of Braxton Craven will be finished by the end of summer, but he said the gymnasium will not be demolished.

The board received an update to the planning and zoning and building inspection fee schedule for next year.

“Planning and Zoning has not updated fees since 1987, excluding the zoning permit fee that was increased to $10 several years ago,” said Planning and Zoning director Tonya Caddle. The department is proposing updates to all the fees.

“We derived these fees from exploring what other counties are doing, our equals across the state, and kind of went somewhere in between. We’re certainly not the highest, we’re not the lowest, we’re kind of in the middle,” Caddle said. “Our cost of doing business of course has gone up since 1987 including advertisements and things, so we’re just trying to align our fees with what is going on across the state and by what seems reasonable to do.”

More details on those fee adjustments will come later.

By Ryan Henkel