Aerial view of Ocracoke Island. Photo: C. Leinbach
Aerial view of Ocracoke Island. Photo: C. Leinbach

Updated with date for budget adoption.

By Connie Leinbach

Hyde County Manager Kris Cahoon Noble is recommending a 5-cent property tax increase, or 82 cents per $100 of assessed valuation up from the current rate of 77 cents.

The increase will help fund the county’s proposed budget of $18.37 million for 2021-2022, up from $16.77 million last year.

The Hyde County Board of Commissioners will hold a budget hearing tonight (Monday, June 7) during the regular board meeting at 6 p.m. The meeting will be broadcast on the Hyde County Public Information Facebook page. To view the agenda and backup materials, click here.

A special meeting to adopt the budget is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, June 21. Proposed revenues and expenses along with Noble’s budget message are available at Hyde County’s webpage

Noble said property owners should not feel this rate hike because property values county-wide are down. She said the county’s “sale ratio” is 86%, which means assessed values are lower than market values.

“It sounds like a lot but 5 cents is less than $500,000,” she said in an interview. “In the scheme of things, it’s not big and shouldn’t be.”

The last time Hyde County raised the tax rate was in 2018 when the rate was 73 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

In her budget message at the May meeting, Noble said last year’s budget took $1.57 million from the fund balance, or its reserve.

But this year, a tax increase will obviate the need for the county to dip into its reserve in order to balance the budget.

In the last two years, Hyde County took money from the fund balance to balance its budget, Noble said.

This resulted in the N.C. Local Government Commission including Hyde County on their Unit Assistance List (UAL) and scrutinizing the board’s decisions to use fund balance to balance our budget.

“Our fund balance is very healthy,” Noble said. The state requires counties to have at least 8% of their overall budget set aside in a fund balance, and they do not like to see counties dip into these funds each year.  “Our fund balance is 20%.”

As for overall property values, the 2021 estimated total taxable value is $9.06 million, up from $8.86 million last year, she said in her budget message, but due to Hurricane Dorian, there is still a substantial amount of total taxable value to recover. Hyde’s current sales assessment ratio is .88, which indicates that assessed values are lower than market values.

“The current gain is more than likely due to Ocracoke rebuild and repair and some properties on the mainland coming out of deferred value,” she said.

Noble said the county will do a property revaluation in 2023 and will begin the process at the end of this year because it takes a year and a half to conduct a revaluation.

Noble said the county received a big part of the FEMA reimbursement for Hurricane Dorian debris removal.

FEMA paid $3 million, or 75% of the debris removal costs, and she said the county will get the other 25% later.

The budget supports the Hyde County School System and all volunteer fire departments at the same levels as previous years.

No county government services, or jobs have been cut in the proposed budget.

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