Newton, NC – Catawba County Manager Mick Berry has recommended a budget of $303.9M for Fiscal Year 2021/22. The recommendation maintains the current property tax rate of $0.575 per $100 of valuation, which remains the second-lowest tax rate among 11 neighboring counties. The full budget recommendation may be viewed online at https://catawbacountync.gov/site/assets/files/8412/managers_budget_message_fy21-22.pdf.
The manager’s recommendation is based on a strong revenue forecast for Catawba County. The budget invests in core services and aligns with the Board’s strategic emphasis on maintaining long-term economic growth. The County is able to make these investments within available revenues due to increased private investment and growth in the tax base and a long-standing commitment to conservative budgeting.
“The Fiscal Year 2021/22 Budget continues to invest in the Board of Commissioners’ Strategic Plan, focused on creating jobs and growing the tax base while continuing to amplify the County’s strong quality of life,” Berry said in his annual budget message. “Even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Catawba County’s deep-rooted tradition of fiscal stewardship has served the community well, positioning the Board of Commissioners to make strategic investments in services that protect community health and safety and reinforce the County’s positive business climate, a critical component of the County’s and region’s post-pandemic economic recovery.”
Highlights of the manager’s budget recommendation include the following:
· Education: Supporting local public education with a two percent increase in total per-pupil funding, $7.8M in school capital funding, a combined $41.5M in school construction for Newton-Conover High School, Maiden Elementary School and Hickory Public Schools; and continued support of the collaborative K-64 initiative with a $1.3M commitment.
· Public Health: Addressing the needs of high-acuity students with two school nurse positions and annualizing three school nurse positions approved in Fiscal Year 2020/21, and supporting community disease prevention efforts with a Communicable Disease Assistant II position also approved in Fiscal Year 2020/21.
· Public Safety: Providing additional support to schools through three School Resource Officer positions approved in Fiscal Year 2020/21; enhancing emergency medical response with powerlift equipment and four replacement ambulances.
· Planning & Parks: Increasing access to the outdoors through the annualization of 7-day-a-week park system operations, including the opening of Mountain Creek Park later this year.
· Economic Development: Fostering a positive business climate by maintaining competitive tax rate; creating jobs and tax base through $1.2M of investments in future economic development efforts, including the creation of a new business park in southeastern Catawba County; and allocating funds to support employer recruitment through potential speculative building partnerships and new business park opportunities. Additionally, three new positions (Building Services Official, Permit Center Specialist, Environmental Health Specialist) are recommended in response to increasing building and development activity.
The Commissioners are holding budget hearings for County departments and outside agencies Thursday, June 10, beginning at 8:00 a.m. in the Board of Commissioners’ Meeting Room at the Catawba County Justice Center in Newton. These hearings are open to the public.
On Tuesday, June 15, the Commissioners will hold a Public Hearing to accept citizen comments regarding the recommended budget beginning at 7:00 p.m. in the Board of Commissioners’ Meeting Room at the Catawba County Justice Center.
The Commissioners are scheduled to vote on budget adoption at their Monday, June 21 Board meeting, which will begin at 7:00 p.m. in the Board of Commissioners’ Meeting Room at the Catawba County Justice Center.