Proposed county budget maintains services with no tax rate increase

Published 1:49 pm Thursday, June 1, 2023

WINSTON-SALEM — County Manager Dudley Watts presented a proposed $569 million budget to Forsyth County commissioners on May 25 that continues to maintain county services in a tumultuous economy with no property tax rate increase. 

The proposed balanced budget maintains the current property tax rate of 67.78 cent per $100 of property value, while maintaining the current level of county services. In the Manager’s Message in the budget, Watts said that even with improvements in supply chain shortages, labor market challenges and inflation, the possibility of going into a recession has grown.

In the Manager’s Recommended budget, the almost certainty of a recession drove decisions to be conservative with the sales tax estimates and other revenues and expenditures, such as building permits, that are impacted greatly by recessionary pressures,” Watts said. “The good news is that our local economy remains strong, unemployment remains low, and all this may help with a soft landing, at least locally.”

The proposed budget continues to ensure services are there for county residents while addressing labor market challenges with aggressive performance-based pay for county employees and a continued effort to update employee classification and compensation so the county can remain a competitive employer.

One unique aspect of the budget is how much one-time money the county has received. This includes federal American Rescue Plan Act funds that have been allocated in the community and money from the opioid settlement that will go to address substance abuse.

The recommended budget is a balanced continuation budget, which is how much it costs to continue providing county services at their current level. The budget also lists alternate service level requests, which are funding requests from departments that the commissioners could decide to include in the budget. 

The recommended budget follows the county’s fiscal policies, including adhering to a debt limit policy of 18 percent, keeping fund balance reserves of 14 percent, and debt leveling.

Budget meetings are held at the Forsyth County Government Center, 201 N. Chestnut Street. Free parking will be available in the Government Center’s parking deck when the meetings are being held. 

The budget process will continue with a detailed Budget Presentation that will start at 9 a.m. on June 1 in the Government Center’s fourth floor Multi-Purpose Room. This will not be televised on WSTV, but the public is welcome to attend.

The rest of the meetings will be held in the Commissioners Meeting Room on the fifth floor of the Government Center. They’ll be televised live and live streamed on WSTV and will be live streamed on the county commissioners’ website at https://coforsythnc.civicweb.net/Portal/ and on the county’s Facebook, YouTube and Vimeo accounts:

  • A Public Hearing on the budget, where residents can give their comments, will be held at 6 p.m. on June 5. Comments can be made in-person or by calling 336-422-1200 at 5:45 p.m. on the day of the meeting. Callers will be placed on hold and recognized to speak in the order their call was received.
  • Budget Workshops will be held June 6 and 7 at 9 a.m.
  • A Special Meeting, where the commissioners may possibly adopt the budget, will be held on June 8 at 2 p.m.

If the budget isn’t adopted by the commissioners on June 8, they would consider it at a later meeting in June, but prior to June 30, as required by the North Carolina General Statutes.

The proposed budget is available for review in the County Commissioners’ Office at the Government Center, on the Budget Department webpage at forsyth.cc/Budget/, and copies will also be distributed to county libraries.