Dear Board Members,
The proposed $125 million general fund budget for fiscal year 2004-2005 is respectfully submitted for your review and consideration. The proposed budget maintains the current tax rate of 78 cents. This document reflects the board’s commitment to excellence in general government, our public school system and public safety.
Fiscal year 2003-2004 has been a successful period in our county’s history. The board has accomplished much during the past year. Those accomplishments include:
- Selling the final $30 million from the 2001 school bond referendum recognizing significant savings from our second bond rating increase;
- Approving the economic development zone and agreeing to move forward with bids on the new Workforce Development Center ;
- Continued expansion and construction of rural water districts;
- Approving a five year moratorium on road name changes for public safety reasons.
- Adopting new policies and procedures for the Pet Adoption Center ;
- Requesting an independent review of the Pet Adoption Center by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture; the report acknowledged the Pet Adoption Center as being in excellent condition;
- Adopting a new residential wastewater policy which provides procedures that will ensure that the limited wastewater capacity we have will be appropriately allocated;
- Adopting a new policy to allow communications equipment to be placed on county water tanks, as long as the company meets the terms of agreement;
- Successfully petitioning the NCDOT to widen two bridges on NC 39, which have been a safety concern for many years and the site of numerous vehicle accidents;
- Approving a long-term agreement with Cleveland Athletic Association for lease of ball fields behind the former Cleveland school;
- Holding a joint meeting with the Board of Equalization and Review to review the recent revaluation process and discuss opportunities for improvements;
- Accepting bids for the new Agricultural Center complex on Hwy 210;
- Committing to a new comprehensive land use study for the county;
- Receiving a clean financial audit report for fiscal year 2002-03;
- Completing the new paved parking lot on Johnston Street ;
- Resolving EMS coverage concerns for southern Johnston County ;
- Moving forward with residential wastewater project for residents with failed or failing septic systems on Devil’s Racetrack Road ;
- Joining Clayton and Benson in a three-party grant application for wastewater sharing opportunity and;
- Authorizing the first recreation study in Johnston County ’s history;
I would encourage the board to consider a retreat this fall to revisit our long range planning for infrastructure projects, including but not limited to water and wastewater facility needs, school construction and renovations, and recreation.
I’m sure that you, as the governing body, share with me a great sense of pride in Johnston County employees and the quality work they perform on a daily basis. The following mission and vision statements, which were adopted earlier this year by the employees, show that they are committed to carrying out the board’s policies and providing customers with excellent service:
Employee Mission Statement
“The employees of Johnston County are dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in our community by working together to provide responsive, efficient and innovative services.”
Employee Vision Statement:
“ Johnston County will be a nationally recognized leader in local government. Johnston County will be a continually improving and learning organization, encouraging employees to be creative and innovative. Johnston County will set the highest standard of professionalism and respect for others.”
Several factors represent the majority of the growth in expenditures from fiscal year 2003-04 to next fiscal year. Some of those drivers in the general fund include, but are not limited to:
§ $2.5 million increase in debt service payments
§ $2.3 million increase in additional local school current expense appropriation
§ $400,000 increase in local Medicaid match
The growth we are experiencing is not only affecting our local school system, but every aspect of county government operations. To continue to meet the demands of our county, the 95th fastest growing county in the United States , we must be sure that we are adequately staffed. It’s hard to realize that our county population is now close to 150,000.
Funding is included for nine additional positions with proposed hire dates of October 2004. The additional cost for those positions would be approximately $156,000 because three of the nine proposed positions receive state and federal reimbursements. The positions are recommended for the following agencies:
Sheriff .......................................... 2 positions
Social Services .......................... 2 positions
Human Resources...................... 1 position
Inspections................................... 1 position
Health .......................................... 1 position
Child Support............................... 1 position
911 communications................... 1 position
Fee increases proposed in this budget are as follows:
- $250 fee for tattoo parlors and $50 per lot fee for subdivision review in Environmental Health while eliminating the $150 administrative fee. This would actually result in lower fees for subdivision plats that have six lots or less.
- Proposed fee increases in public utilities include increasing the one-time water supply capacity fee from $2/gpd to $2.50/gpd; increasing the wastewater commodity surcharge by $.10/1000 gallons; and adjustments in our bulk wastewater fees for our customers for major upgrades at the existing plant.
No cost of living raises are proposed in this budget; only salary increases based on performance evaluations. Those funds are included in the proposed budget.
I’d like to give a special thanks to John Massey, our chief finance officer. His tireless efforts and long hours during the past few months have not gone unnoticed.
Rick J. Hester