Commissioners approve budget that doesn’t raise taxes

Published 12:07 am Thursday, June 20, 2024

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Forsyth County commissioners approved a $583.7 million budget on June 13 that doesn’t raise the property tax rate despite investing in services for the community.
The budget maintains the current tax rate of 67.78 cents per $100 of property value while maintaining and enhancing county services. Education remains the county’s largest service area in terms of expenditures, amounting to $190 million or 33 percent of the General Fund budget.
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools receives 94.7 percent of those funds, or $177.4 million. That’s an increase of 4.9 percent or $8.3 million over last year including money for salary increases and a computer refresh. In addition to that, there is $1.7 million for bus and school radio upgrades along with $425,284 for five additional public health school nurses. Additionally, education bond projects, like building and renovating schools, also make up most of the $88.8 million devoted to debt service in the General Fund.
Public safety is the county’s second largest service area by expenditures, with 18 percent of the budget or $104.2 million. The sheriff’s office receives 72 percent of those funds, or $75.5 million, and Emergency Services receives 27 percent of those funds, or $27.8 million.
New spending for the sheriff’s office in the adopted budget includes $330,000 to retain the Juvenile Intervention and Investigation Team (JIIT), which was originally funded with American Rescue Plan Act funds. There’s $175,910 for an additional deputy for Rural Hall, with $60,700 covered by forfeiture funds and the Town of Rural Hall covering $73,115.
The budget also includes $94,500 for additional security for the Health and Human Services Campus. There’s also $37,222 to shift a soil and water conservationist position from part-time to full-time.
Also in the budget, eight advanced EMT positions were added for Emergency Medical Services and 12 positions were added for Economic Services at the Department of Social Services.
For county employees, the budget supports up to 6 percent merit increases for employees and sets funds aside for pay-plan adjustments to keep employee salaries competitive.
The budget includes special appropriations for local non-profits, including Senior Services, Experiment in Self-Reliance, Children’s Law Center, HARRY Veterans Services, Family Services, Neighborhood’s Hands, Kaleideum, Arts Council, Old Salem and others.
The budget also sets the tax rates for the volunteer fire departments serving rural areas and the county-wide fire tax for the supplemental staffing program. The rate for the supplemental staffing program remained .39 cents per $100 valuation.
The commissioners thanked the budget staff for their hard work and patience in preparing the budget.
The preliminary budget is still available to view online on the Budget Department website, The final, approved budget, which goes into effect on July 1, will be available online by the end of the month.