County Manager Recommends Flat Tax Rate for FY21 Budget
GASTONIA, N.C. – After weeks of intense scrutiny and revisions, Gaston County manager Dr. Kim Eagle presented her recommended budget to the Board of Commissioners Tuesday night, asking for a flat property tax rate.
The recommended budget is a 2 percent decrease ($4.4M) from spending levels in the current fiscal year, given projections about expected declines in sales and property taxes over the next 12 months.
Dr. Eagle recommended a slight mid-year salary increase for existing staff as part of a transition to a merit-based pay plan, which was recommended by the Board of Commissioners. The cost of the merit plan is more than covered by savings from a vacancy rate plan plus a hiring freeze for all positions not considered critical to the continued delivery of county services.
The County is also not adding any new 100 percent County-funded positions in the FY21 budget year. The hiring freeze will run through the end of the calendar year, at which point county leaders will reevaluate the need based on the economic climate and updated revenue projections.
“This is truly about doing more with less,” Dr. Eagle said. “We have asked a lot of our staff during this crisis and we will continue to ask a lot of them. This budget puts County government on firm footing to continue to meet the needs of our residents while keeping those most affected economically by COVID-19 from falling through the cracks.”
Right now, the County is anticipating a 12.5 percent dip in sales tax revenue – a middle of the road projection from the various forecasts that have been done. The county is also projecting a smaller drop in property tax, primarily due to a drop in the motor vehicle tax base.
The Board of Commissioners is set to meet for a budget retreat on June 4th to discuss the budget and then is set to adopt a final budget at its June 9th regular meeting.