County commissioners prepare for future

The Moore County Board of Commissioners’ Feb. 24 annual budget meeting shared accomplishments including administering $4 million in CARES Act funds to towns and completing the Sandhills Community College $123 million bond issuance approval at 1.28%. The board met at the Moore County Senior Enrichment Center.

The county bond rating received an upgrade to Aa2.

Property Tax

County Manager Wayne Vest said one of the big things the county offers is a 2% discount on property tax when paid before Sept. 1.

The deadline is Jan. 5 and after the deadline, a 2% delinquent increase is added.

Vest said a 2.5% increase in the property tax base for 2022, a revaluation year, would generate $2.1 million.

Property taxes supply 75% of the General Fund.

Sales Tax

The impact of closed stores due to the novel coronavirus was expected.

Sales tax was down in October, and according to Vest, it is typically down in spring. The county is prepared for loss with a conservative approach, and restrictions helped people spend money at home.

“Hesitant to put numbers out there yet,” Vest said. “Big concern as we develop a budget.”

“Sales tax is 14% of the General Fund budget,” Tammy Golden, budget manager and internal auditor said. “We are always three months behind and based on trends, looking at down point.”

Vest said 49% of revenue goes toward Educational Fund, then human services, then the General Fund and then public safety.

Public Works

Moore County’s future water supply study showed current water supplies will not meet population growth.

Deep River was identified as a potential water source, tapping in at Glendon and High Falls. Alternatives will be considered in the Engineering Report which is used to guide funding applications. The water supply expansion is expected to be $27.5 million in 2023.

A 9% water rate increase is proposed for Moore County Public Utilities of the Carolina in Robbins and High Falls systems due to the large amount of flushing water required to maintain water quality.

A complete analysis will be prepared next year.

Water flow would be reversed, according to Vest, and “don’t know if it would be a big issue. A lot of things to weigh in there.”

Public Works completed the replacement of an interceptor through Devil’s Gut at Pinehurst No. 7, and the next portion up for completion is near Morganton Road. The estimated cost for surveying, engineering and inspections for the upcoming work is $311,000.

Moore County Airport

The economic impact grew to $93 million according to Moore County Airport Manager Scott Malta who said revenues and expenses are on track. Despite COVID, all hangars were full with a waiting list.

Malta presented a list of improvements needed for the 2024 U.S. Open. Critical improvements for safety, maintenance and operations include removing objects from Runway Protection Zones, ramp replacement, taxiway and lighting improvements. Each improvement is grant eligible.

County Employee COVID-19 Relief

Vest said from the early days of March, county employees were considered essential and later considered emergency responders.

“… allocating additional leave hours, in the eighty-hour range,” Vest said, “would not add to the bottom line and would not go for paid-out leave.”

Commissioner Otis Ritter said, “Filled our knowledge bucket today. Best staff I’ve ever worked with.”

Feature photo: Moore County Commissioners Chairman Frank Quis and Catherine Graham enjoying the fire hydrant gifts from the fire district.

~Article and photo by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Stephanie M. Sellers.

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