New sports complex now included in proposed capital projects. Health insurance coverage for county employees remains the same.

LAWRENCEVILLE – Brunswick County residents will likely be paying more in taxes next fiscal year. The Brunswick County Board of Supervisors voted to raise personal property taxes from $3.65 per $100 of assessed value to $3.85 and to raise real estate taxes from $0.53 per $100 of assessed value to $0.86, $0.66 for the General Fund deficit and $0.20 for capital projects. The vote was unanimous. The action was taken at a budget work session held on Thursday, April 15, 2021.

Keli Reekes, Director of Finance, said now that the proposed tax rates were approved the FY2021-2022 General Fund Budget and the Capital Improvements Project Budget for FY2022-FY2026 can be finalized for advertisement on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 and May 12, 2021. The public hearing on the proposed consolidated budget will be held on Wednesday, May 19, 2021 at 7:30 p.m. at the Brunswick County Government Building, 228 North Main Street.

Prior to the vote Reekes provided four tax scenarios for the supervisors to consider that dealt with the General Fund deficit only that totals $3,229,679. The value of $0.01 of real estate is $231,629. The value of $0.05 of personal property is $55,000.

Dr. Charlette T. Woolridge, County Administrator, provided two options to the supervisors when the budget preparation process began: Option 1 included departmental requests and Option 2 included level funding with a few exceptions.

Earlier the supervisors asked for more information on a request from the Electoral Board asking for an increase of $50,761 for an increase in stipends and costs associated with early voting. Those questions have been answered.

The Brunswick County Industrial Development Authority requested $47,500 for a shareable database. The supervisors wanted to know if a salary was involved. Michael Dotti, IDA Business Director, provided more information but the supervisors want more clarification on whether the request includes a salary for a part time employee that will be a recurring expense.

At the last meeting Reekes provided information to the supervisors on the FY22 health insurance renewal. She said the Local Choice health insurance renewal for Brunswick County resulted in a 6.1% increase to the current rates. The supervisors voted to offer the same coverage for the upcoming fiscal year and Dr. Woolridge and staff will poll the employees regarding insurance preferences to be used in preparing the budget next fiscal year. The total additional cost to the County would be $77,544 and that amount is included in the FY2021-2022 proposed budget.

Capital Projects – County and Schools

Ted Cole and Ben Wilson with Davenport Public Finance attended the meeting on April 15.

As background Josh Bower with Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates attended a joint meeting held on March 23 of the supervisors and school board and provided a summary of the three options chosen to address the long-term needs of Brunswick County Public Schools. Pros and cons were given for each option.

At the March 30 meeting there was a lengthy discussion about Option 8. This option would close the three elementary schools and perform a comprehensive renovation of the Middle School. The grade alignment would shift to a Pre-K-6 and 7-12. The high school would receive a small classroom addition to help separate 7th and 8th from the 9-12 and selectively renovate the portion of the High School that was not renovated in 2004.

Pros – Consolidate buildings down to 2 campuses in the center of the County. Reduce buildings from 7 to 3. High School addition will permit a clear separation of 7-8 from 9-12. Phasing will permit a limited disruption of educational program. Maintain educational use of the Middle School.

Cons – Division will vacate three elementary schools back to the County.

The project cost range is $43,017,681 - $48,180,864. The interest rate is 5%.

Supervisor Bernard Jones, Sr. said the athletic field at Brunswick High School was not addressed in any of the options. He further stated that track meets can’t be held at BHS because the track does not meet state requirements. There are also concerns about the safety of the bleachers. Jones said before the pandemic hit at earlier meetings of the School Facilities Committee a figure of $10 million was used for the cost of a new sports complex. The supervisors feel any renovation should include the sports complex.

At the April 15 meeting Jones said he and Supervisor Dr. Alfonzo Seward met with Roy Warwick, Chair, Brunswick County School Board and Timothy Puryear, Vice Chair, at the football field to discuss the condition of the field. Jones said in the earlier meetings the sports complex would be a 2,800 seat complex with 8 lanes for track.

Supervisor John Zubrod agreed on the importance of having an up to date school facility when attracting a new business.

According to information provided by Davenport regarding financing for capital projects for the county and Option 8: County CIP projects funded - $8,240,000; school projects - $48,180,864; issuance, Fall 2022 (FY 2023); planning interest rate – 5%; first interest, FY 2024; first principal, FY 2024, term, 25 years; proposed debt service, $85,463,767; equivalent tax impact – 2024 -15.00 cents; 2025 – 1.14 cents; total equivalent tax impact – 16.13 cents; estimated impact based on a 30-year term 14.96 cents. The sports complex is now included at a cost of $10 million.

For more information about the budget call the county administrator’s office at (434) 848-3107.