By Connie Leinbach
Hyde County Manager Kris Cahoon Noble is recommending a 10-cent property tax increase, or 0.895 cents per $100 of assessed valuation up from the current rate of .795 cents.
The increase will help fund the county’s proposed general fund budget of $15.559 million for 2022-2023, up from $15.357 million last year.
The Hyde County Board of Commissioners will hold a budget hearing Monday, June 6, during the regular board meeting at 6 p.m. The meeting will be broadcast on the Hyde County Public Information Facebook page.
Noble expects the budget to be adopted on June 27. The proposed revenues and expenditures are online at http://www.hydecountync.gov/departments/Finance.
Noble said this budget would not require an appropriation from the fund balance to balance expenses and revenues. The fund balance is a pot of money set aside for emergencies and all counties are recommended to maintain a fund balance of 8% of their budget.
Hyde County’s fund balance as of the most recent audited figure as of June 30, 2020, is $4,914,339.
Noble said the fund balance won’t be used because of the proposed tax rate increase, which estimates the collection from property taxes to reach $7.8 million, up from $6.92 million last year. But all tax revenues — from DMV, delinquent fines and penalties – are expected to total $8.73 million.
The rest of the revenues are mostly from the state and federal governments to cover such mandated services as health ($1.79 million) and social services ($2.17 million).
Expenses for emergency medical services will rise to $2.15 million, up from $1.88 million last year. Included in that is a first-year lease payment on a new ambulance for $38,592.
Noble said beginning Memorial Day, there are four EMS crews rotating on the island, and two ambulances have been on the island since May 26.
She said the number of EMTs on the island varies because some EMTs work on both the island and the mainland.
Also, the county wants to offer basic EMT training on the island if there are enough participants.
“Having more island residents certified as EMTs could mean more on-call EMTs and a greater level of coverage in the coming year,” she said.
The sheriff’s department budget is $1.82 million, up from $1.71 million last year.
In North Carolina, the state funds the schools with local counties supplementing it.
Although the Hyde County Board of Education had asked the county for $1.7 million, the proposed appropriation is $1.3 million.
Noble said after examining the school district’s audit, the county found that they had made significant contributions to their general fund balance over the last several years showing that it did not require the level of funding given by Hyde County to operate the schools.
“The (commissioners) feel the reduced contribution should not decrease the school system’s ability to serve at previous year’s levels after examination of their financial records,” she said. “The commissioners will meet with the Board of Education at 4 p.m. on June 6 to discuss this and ensure that they can operate with that level of funding without cutting important areas like art and athletics.”
In the “Elderly nutrition” expense sheet, the mainland is to receive $39,000 in services and Ocracoke zero.
Noble said Meals on Wheels is the mainland program, funded by the Albemarle Commission (AC).
Right now, the local churches are providing daily meals for some of the elderly on the island.
It was funded prior to Dorian by the AC and this practice could continue with talks between those providing those services currently and the AC, she said.
“The AC is willing to assist if this is requested and I would be happy to be liaison in those discussions,” Noble said. “Laura Alvarico at the AC would be happy to discuss this with anyone that would like to pursue that.”