DENTON — The budget approved by the Commissioners at the end of May kept the property rate unchanged. The County’s property tax rate will continue to be 98 cents per $100 of assessed value and there are no changes to the income tax rate of 3.2 percent.
With a general fund budget of $56,749,994 for FY2021, County Administrator Jeremy Goldman approximated the allotment of funds to be divided as follows: 35% schools, 30% public safety, 12% county administration, 8% debt service, 8% public works, 2% recreation and leisure, and 1 % for health and social services. The next years budget holds the line from FY2020 with a negligible difference.
The Greensboro Elementary project was financed by debt issued for the County’s portion by the sale of a Municipal Bonds in 2019. Taking advantage of an attractive bond market in the fall of 2019, the county took the proactive step of refunding all outstanding existing debt, lowering the interest rates significantly without extending the time on any of the debt. According to county officials, the result of this well- timed savvy financial maneuver is a net savings of $1,425,567.31 in current debt cost.
As a final note, property owners within the County’s 10 incorporated municipalities pay property taxes at rates established by those towns. Property owners within the five largest towns receive a discount on County taxes called a “differential.” This discount is meant to offset the cost of duplicative services like law enforcement. This year’s differential resulted in the County forgoing $449,650.03 in property taxes.
While a thoughtful and prudent plan, like most budgets, the FY 21 budget does face some challenges, wrote Margaret Roe, finance director.
The comprehensive budget plan states, “The unknown economic climate as we move forward into the recovery phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, with no previous modeling to use a guide, forecasting revenue is. At best an inexact science. Add to this, factors such as current fuel and other commodities are at historic lows but could spike in the future, creating pressure on the operational side of the budget. The local labor market was tight prior to the pandemic and it remains to be seen what if any long-term effect COVID-19 will have on wages. In traditionally higher turnover departments like Corrections, Emergency Services, and Public Works, the County has struggled to fill positions, a situation compounded by competition with surrounding counties.”