• By Todd Luck
  • Posted Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Proposed budget lowers property tax rate, in-person meetings will be held

County Manager Dudley Watts presented a proposed $503 million budget to Forsyth County commissioners on May 27 that lowers the property tax rate by nearly six cent while maintaining services amid a resilient economy with a strong tax base.

The proposed balanced budget includes a property tax rate of 68.88 cent per $100 of property value, which is a reduction from the current 74.35 cent rate. This is the result of this year’s property tax revaluation, which increased the revenue from one penny of property tax from $3,738,525 to $4,227,725. This is reflective of a growing tax base and increased residential property values. The 68.88 cent rate represents a revenue neutral budget plus 2.6 cent for debt leveling.

During the presentation, commissioners agreed to return to in person attendance during their meetings, which are held at the Forsyth County Government Center, 201 N. Chestnut Street. Free parking will be available in the Government Center’s parking deck when the meetings are being held. Meetings will still available to view, online and calling-in will still be an option for the public comment session

Commissioners will also be considering how to use $6 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds in the next fiscal year. The county will have to follow federal guidelines that limit what the money can be used for when allocating the funds.

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools is projected to receive an estimated $17.6 million for local teacher supplements from the ¼ cent county sales tax, which is a $6.5 million increase from last fiscal year. This exceeds the county’s initial estimates, which had the revenue from the tax exceeding $14.3 million by 2025.

In the Manager’s Message in the budget, County Manager Dudley Watts said federal stimulus was an important factor in the increased sales tax revenue.

“Federal stimulus payments have been a game changer,” said Watts. “One reason for the strong sales tax revenue is the federal stimulus payments, to individuals, businesses, non-profits, and local governments. The payments have resulted in robust consumer spending that translates into unanticipated sales tax revenues to fund County services, including the schools.”

The recommended budget is a balanced continuation budget, which is how much it costs to continue providing county services at their current level. The budget also lists alternate service level requests, which are funding requests from departments that the commissioners could decide to include in the budget. There are 72 alternate service levels totaling $20.3 million.

The recommended budget maintains the county’s fiscal policies of maintaining an 18 percent debt ceiling, 14 percent target fund balance and debt leveling.

The budget process will continue with a detailed Budget Presentation that will start at 9 a.m. on June 3 in the Government Center’s fourth floor Multi-Purpose Room. This will not be televised on WSTV, but the county will live stream it on Facebook and the public is welcome to attend.

The rest of the meetings will be held in the Commissioners Meeting Room on the fifth floor of the Government Center. They’ll be televised live and live streamed on WSTV and will be live streamed on the county commissioners’ website at https://coforsythnc.civicweb.net/Portal/ and on the county’s Facebook, YouTube and Vimeo accounts:

  • A Public Hearing on the budget, where residents can give their comments, will be held at 2 p.m. on June 7. Comments can be made in-person or by calling 336-422-1200 at 1:45 p.m. on the day of the meeting. Callers will be placed on hold and recognized to speak in the order their call were received.
  • Budget Workshops will be held June 8 and 9 at 9 a.m.
  • A Special Meeting, where the commissioners may possibly adopt the budget, will be held on June 10 at 2 p.m.

If the budget isn’t adopted by the commissioners on June 10, they would consider it at their 2 p.m. meeting on June 24.

The proposed budget is available for review in the County Commissioners’ Office at the Government Center, on the Budget Department webpage at forsyth.cc/Budget/, and copies will also be distributed to county libraries.