Stanly County Commissioners pass new budget

ALBEMARLE — The Stanly County Commissioners voted Friday to approve the fiscal year 2018-2019 budget which topped $64 million in general fund spending with an overall spend of $73.6 million from all funding sources. The new budget is 1.87% higher than the 2017-2018 adopted budget.   The property tax rate remains the same at $0.67 per $100 for the 12th consecutive year.

Notable in the budget adjustments from last fiscal year is an overall increase in education spending of over 3% with a 22.55% increase in the teacher supplement grant. Stanly County School’s local teacher supplement now exceeds $2,000 on top of the state appropriations for teacher salaries. The commissioners also increased the budget for school resource officers by 3.63%. The total education budget, which includes the Stanly County Schools and Stanly Community College, stands at $16.3 million for the upcoming year. The K-12 system, including the school resource officer program, now tops $15 million, representing over 23% of the total general fund budget.

The Stanly County Airport also benefited from a 30% increase which drove the regional airport’s county general funds appropriation to over $425,000. The bulk of the general fund increase is for hanger improvements, a one-time project. The county is also spending an additional $235,000 in local funding for a major lighting project which will ultimately cost more than $1.6 million with the remaining $1.4 million coming from matching federal and state funds. “I am excited that some of the long-delayed capital projects are happening at the airport and across the county with this budget,” said Chairman Joseph Burleson.

County emergency management spending increased by over $79,000 which represents a 31.69% increase from last year. The bulk of the increase is for one-time costs associated with designing a new EMS base. The county’s 911 services budget also increased by 12.95% with two major one-time projects driving the increase. The county is committing $75,000 for site development and road construction for a fifth radio tower to enhance emergency radio coverage in the eastern portion of Stanly County. This area has historically lacked sufficient coverage due to the topography around Morrow Mountain. This new tower will be adjacent to the new Eastside Volunteer Fire Department.

The other big-ticket item is $169,000 for software upgrades and integration of the county’s communications systems and GPS locators. “This is another life safety feature we are putting place for our emergency personnel,” said County Manager Andy Lucas.

Stanly County Umbrella Services Agency received a 26.7% increase of over $270,305 which brings the community transportation services organization’s total budget to $1,282,770. This increase is for the replacement of four vehicles which is required by the state. County revenue spent on this project is less than $30,000 with the remainder coming from state and federal funds.

Veterans services also received a 7% increase much of which represents one-time spending to replace flags on grave markers in veterans’ graveyards.

The largest budget reduction occurred in the social services area with a $1.4 million reduction which represented a 14.47% reduction. County manager Andy Lucas said this adjustment resulted from the state government paying daycare operators directly instead of the county operating as a pass-through entity for the state dollars. “There is no change to the operations of the department,” said Lucas. “This is just a change in the way the state makes payments.” The large agency still commands a budget of over $8.4 million, representing over 13% of the total general fund budget of the county.

“The board did a good job of setting priorities and set clear direction on where the county needs to go,” said Lucas. “The staff did an excellent job of putting together this budget. I commend the board for the time they put into the process.”