Guilford County just passed the largest budget in the history of the county and all those programs, construction projects, raises, MWBE efforts and other initiatives need to be paid for with money from somewhere.
Contrary to what one might think from watching the board spend and give out money at a very brisk pace, there is no magic money tree hidden away and safely guarded at one of the county’s parks.
Instead, the new 2023-2024 fiscal year Guilford County budget has to find real money from non-magical places.
One of those places is your federal income tax payments. In the new budget, about $20 million is coming from American Rescue Plan (ARP) money – a federal program meant to help stimulate the economy during the COVID-19 crisis. Much of that money is being used to fund a new homelessness taskforce and a new county transportation taskforce. It’s also being used to fund an integrated data project meant to provide the county better and more detailed information as to how the county is operating.
The property tax rate for the coming fiscal year that starts on July 1 is 73.05 cents for each $100 of assessed value, and Guilford County residents who don’t live in municipalities that have their own fire departments pay additional taxes for fire protection. Property tax is of course the big revenue generator for the county. It pulls in 63 percent of the money the county plans to spend in the coming year.
The next biggest source is sales tax revenue. Commissioners like this tax because people from outside of the county pay every time they come in to the county and shop, eat or attend a sporting event.
Another annual major source of money is federal and state funds together, which will make up nearly 12 percent of the funding in the new budget. This also comes largely from your state and federal income tax payments.
About 90 precent of the county’s revenue each year comes from those three sources – property tax, sales tax and federal and state funds.
Other county revenue sources include a wide variety of fees such as passport fees, inspection fees and charges for the use of a park shelter. The county also gets revenue from interest and capital growth on its investment earnings – though those are hard to predict ahead of time.
County officials generally have a very good idea of how much money property taxes will generate in the 12-month fiscal year because they know the assessed value of the tax base and they know that the Tax Department will collect over 99 percent of the money owed.