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Proposed budget for 2023 aired at work session; two public hearings set

The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners heard a presentation at a recent work session on Tuesday, July 26, for the proposed budget for 2023. 

Commissioners also voted to authorize for the county to advertise two public hearings: one for the proposed budget and another regarding occupational tax. The public hearings will be held on Aug. 18. 

All items were approved with a unanimous 4-0 vote, with District 3 Commissioner Todd Levent absent from the meeting. 

According to County Manager Kevin Tanner, the general fund is estimated at $186,100,000 which is a 13.4% increase from 2022’s adopted general fund of $167,174,118.

The 2023 budget also contemplates a 4% cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, increase and 16 additional full-time employees. 

The budget assumes an unchanged millage rate, a net tax digest growth of 13.45% and forecasted real and personal property tax revenue increase of 19.7% with a 97% property tax collection rate. 

“That’s the result of growth and the 2022 tax digest,” Tanner said.

Projected revenue from taxes is $150,317,013 in 2023 with an increase of 27.27% for title ad valorem taxes and 5% for sales taxes. 

Other budget items include a 15.02% increase in expenditures for the animal shelter which will add four new full-time positions. 

“The purpose of this is being able to take our animal shelter to seven days a week,” Tanner said. “We currently are not open seven days a week, so when a dog may be dropped off on a Friday, it may be Monday before someone could come to claim their lost dog.”

The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office is proposed to have an increase of 11.12% in expenditures “primarily due to a … market salary adjustment.”

The fire fund is separate and is proposed at $38,796,369 for 2023, which is a 19.64% increase from the 2022 adopted fire fund of $32,426,794. 

Other revenues for the fire fund and capital/contingency expenditures are proposed to increase over 100%, which Tanner explained is the result of “pulling some dollars out of [the fire fund’s] balance … to move it into the budget to help build … [the new] Fire Station No. 15 and also the training facility they’re going to be working on.”

Tanner said the goal for the debt service fund is for Forsyth County to be debt-free by 2035, possibly sooner. 

He said he and the other county employees that worked together on the budget were tasked with identifying how much the county would be collecting from increased taxes “because of growth and the tax digest.”

He explained that revenue, a projected $6 million, would be transferred from the general fund “to pay down, to decrease bonds.”

 According to Tanner, there is a “scheduled increase in the debt millage for [2026, 2027 and 2028.”

“As a result of this action … as part of this budget, that will be leveled out and there will be no need to increase the millage in 2026, 2027 and 2028,” Tanner said.