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Wilson County property owners won’t see a tax hike under County Manager Denise Stinagle’s proposed 2020-21 budget.
On Monday, Stinagle presented her recommended budget to county commissioners. The spending plan includes capital improvements to public schools, the community college, detention center, the courthouse and the main library.
The current property tax rate of 73 cents per $100 in property valuation is unchanged in the manager’s budget.
“This represents the 13th year that the tax rate has not increased with a continued commitment to delivering quality citizen services,” Stinagle told commissioners.
The proposed budget totals roughly $103.6 million with a fund balance allocation of 15.23%.
The county’s largest service expenditures continue to be human services at 32%, education at 25% and public safety at 23%.
Stinagle said the county has worked for several years on systematically scheduling capital funds for roofs, necessary equipment, building improvements and public school needs.
This year’s recommended budget includes:
• $110,000 for express ballot devices for the Wilson County Board of Elections.
• $149,000 to upgrade the courthouse elevator.
• $115,000 to update the electrical wiring and panel at the county’s Nash Street office building.
• $380,000 to replace the detention center’s roof.
• $102,000 for study rooms and flooring at the Wilson County Public Library.
• $195,000 to upgrade network switches.
INNOVATIVE COUNTY WORKFORCE
Stinagle’s budget also reflects a 3.5% raise for county employees.
“It adjusts a few personnel salaries to better reflect market rates and adds one maintenance mechanic at the Department of Social Services,” Stinagle said.
She said the state-required employer contribution rate increases from 8.95% to 10.2% for general employees and 9.84% to 11.04% for law enforcement officers, which results in an increase of $144,000. Health insurance increased by an additional 5%, resulting in an increase of $357,000, Stinagle added.
“Training and development line items remain to encourage employee development and growth,” she said.
Stinagle said Wilson County government and commissioners share a passion for people.
“And we are known for our partnerships that continue to make a powerful and meaningful impact in the lives of our citizens,” she said. “Despite future uncertainties surrounding the coronavirus, this budget continues support to several nonprofits and maintains funding for economic development.”
QUALITY OF LIFE
The proposed budget funds social services, the health department, senior services and mental health services through Eastpointe. It also supports critical emergency medical services, public safety, emergency management and 911 communications.
The recommended budget also includes funding for the following:
• One replacement ambulance and a quick-response vehicle for EMS at $254,000.
• 22 replacement vehicles for the sheriff’s office at $666,000.
“Our public library assists our youngest citizens that are learning to read, all the way up to our citizens that are in search of a better career and life as they are able to explore resources and access internet services that they may not have within their homes,” Stinagle said.
The proposed budget funds library services at roughly $2.18 million.
EDUCATION AND WORKFORCE
Stinagle said the county values education and knows that it’s the foundation for Wilson County’s future.
“We also value citizens retooling themselves to remain competitive in the workforce,” she said.
Stinagle allotted $1 million toward Wilson County Schools’ capital needs and roughly $22.4 million for the school system, which is an increase of 3.5%.
The proposed budget reflects full funding of Wilson Community College’s budget request and $416,000 in capital outlay. WCC’s budget is roughly $2.5 million, which is about a $123,500 increase from the current fiscal year.
A LOOK AHEAD
Stinagle said county officials are excited to see construction begin on two important capital improvement projects — the EMS South Station in Black Creek and the new animal shelter.
“As a board, you have diligently reserved money for several years to plan for construction of both projects without incurring additional debt,” she said.
Stinagle said the additional EMS South Station will enhance response times and bolster the EMS agency’s footprint in Wilson County.
“The new Animal Services shelter will replace our current aging shelter and will be a wonderful enhancement,” she said.
This year’s proposed budget includes an additional $100,000 to cover operational equipment at the shelter, which is not included in the construction contract.
A LOOK BACK
Stinagle called the Wilson County Public Library a community centerpiece and a beautiful historical marker.
She said during the current fiscal year, the county upgraded flooring, security cameras for all sites, self check-out kiosks and seating replacement.
Last year, county commissioners appropriated an additional $2 million outside the normal budget cycle to support local high school enhancements, which includes tennis court and track renovations, paving and athletic field lighting, Stinagle said.
Other capital projects this year included building enhancements with renovation to patient registration and customer service lobby and more secure restroom entrances at the Wilson County Health Department, she said. The tax office and Miller Road building also received flooring upgrades.
The Wilson County Senior Activities Center received a remodel and upgrades to the center’s vitality and multi-use room, she said.
“The enhanced flexible space supports our seniors’ independence, physical health and social engagement,” she said.
Commissioners and county officials are still in the midst of the budget process. Commissioners began a line-by-line review of the proposed budget this week. The board will reconvene at 7 p.m. Monday at the Miller Road County Government Building.
These steps allow for revisions and adjustments to the budget before commissioners take a final vote after a public hearing next month.