The Guilford County Board of Commissioners have had a heck of a fiscal year when it comes to budgeting and planning.
On the one hand, there’s been a pandemic that’s cost the county greatly. On the other, the county received over $93 million in federal funds in 2020 to address that crisis, and Guilford County now has over $100 million more on the way.
At the board’s Thursday, March 18 meeting, the commissioners will hear a financial situation report from Guilford County Budget Management and Evaluation Director Alex Smith – and the report won’t be all bad.
The commissioners need the information to help plan for the upcoming 2021-2022 budget that’s slated to be adopted in June. Here are some of the highlights as to where the county stands financially according to a summary of the coming report.
As Guilford County Tax Director Ben Chavis stated earlier this year, property tax collections in Guilford County didn’t drop. Despite a lot of people being out of work from COVID-19, as of the end of January, the property tax collection rate was at the same level it was at the end of January 2020.
Smith’s report to the board will also state that motor vehicle collections are “trending better than budgeted and are matching pre-COVID estimates” – and that combined property and motor vehicle tax revenues are coming in slightly over what was planned.
Sales tax revenue has been something of a pleasant surprise for the commissioners. One year ago, many county officials were predicting huge drops in sales tax revenue due to the pandemic, but the numbers are coming in better than budgeted in the 2020-2021 budget.
Smith’s report summary states, “Monthly sales for July-October 2020 are the same as in July-October 2019.”
According to some sources, stimulus money has made a difference, and, while people buy different things during a pandemic – such as computers and webcams rather than dinners and movies – they don’t just stop buying things.
Smith’s report will state that COVID-19 has reduced various revenues that the county is used to each year, such as court service fees and the usage fees for parks, pools and health clinics.
Smith’s report also notes that the county’s personnel and operating expenses are “at or below budget overall.”
For one thing, the county has saved on employee salaries due to higher than normal vacancies during the pandemic.