The Guilford County Board of Commissioners is expected to adopt a new Guilford County budget for fiscal 2022-2023 on Thursday, June 16, but the board is also expected to receive some information on how the budget adopted last summer is turning out.
Each year, Guilford County government budgets – which run from July 1 to June 30 – are really just best guesses as to how things like revenue and expenditures will turn out, and it helps the board to know mid-budget-year how the county’s previous budget plans are matching up with reality.
At the June 16 meeting, the board is getting information from new Guilford County Budget Director Toy Beeninga – who presented a lot of information to the board in a meeting earlier this month.
Beeninga hit the ground running as budget director and has turned out to be one of the county’s most dynamic public speakers.
However, it’s the content of the information that’s the most important at this time of year and here are some of the highlights of the Guilford County Budget Department’s report to the commissioners which includes information through April of 2022.
One vitally important piece of data is this: “Property tax continues a positive trend.” Due to the pandemic, there were a lot of concerns that people wouldn’t be able to pay their property tax bills however Guilford County Tax Director Ben Chavis and his office have done an excellent job keeping collections at or near record levels.
Another positive of the 2021-2022 budget is that gross sales tax collections have been good as well. They continue to exceed expectations. County budget officials attribute much of that good news to the “unprecedented federal stimulus” of recent years. Currently, sales tax collections remain on pace to surpass last year’s, which came in at around $100 million.
According to the report to the commissioners, “Other revenues continue to perform as expected, and exceeding prior years, associated with charges for service, permits, and licenses, and building permits.”
But it’s not all rosy: In 2021-2022 – at least through April of 2022 – salary costs are up over the previous year due to a 5 percent pay raise for all employees approved in the middle of the budget year.
Also, employee overtime is costing more than anticipated “as staff in various departments work additional hours associated with market challenges filling vacant positions.”
In other areas, group insurance and retirement programs are costing about as much as expected – though the report notes that “State mandated retirement costs continue to increase associated with a 1.2 percent mandated County contribution to the retirement plan.”
Also, like everyone else in America, fuel costs for the county are coming in much higher than expected in the current budget year. The county has a lot of vehicles – staff cars, Sherriff’s Department vehicles, EMS vans, etc. to pump gas into day after day.