In a presentation Thursday, Cumberland County administrators recommended to the Board of Commissioners a $566.9 million budget for the next fiscal year with no changes in the property tax rate.
But the plan also calls for more than doubling the solid waste fee.
The proposed budget is more than last year’s spending of $553.7 million, with an increase of $13.2 million. Actual spending for this fiscal year, however, is projected to land at $520.5 million by June 30, the end of fiscal year 2023.
County Manager Clarence Grier, in his first budget presentation to the board since being hired earlier this year, said the economic challenges the county will face next year will be similar to that seen in the recent past.
“As we look at the economic outlook and aftermath of COVID-19, we continue to face some ongoing challenges and concerns such as the opioid addiction, mental health, upheaval due to the great resignation and wage growth that has caused inflation and supply-chain issues,” Grier said.
Solid waste fee increase
While no property tax increase is recommended in the 2024 budget, the county staff recommended increasing the solid waste fee from the current $56 to $130, a move that the county projects will generate $7.1 million in revenue. The solid waste fee is what the county uses to operate its landfills.
The county is also recommending increases in landfill tipping fees, a measure projected to generate $254,000 a year.
Beyond generating revenue, Grier said the increases will help finance construction and maintenance projects that will increase capacity at county landfills. The increases also, Grier said, will put Cumberland County more in line with neighboring counties.
“Tipping fees are the lowest in our region of any other county around us,” Grier said. “You can prevent others from bringing their waste to our landfills as we’re trying to expand the capacity.”
In the recommended budget, the county has allocated $87.5 million for Cumberland County Schools, a $3.2 million increase over last year. But it is lower than the $88.2 million that the Board of Education requested last month, CityView reported.
As for Fayetteville Technical Community College, the county is recommending funding of $15.4 million, up $1.2 million from last year but lower than the $16 million requested.
Crown Center funding
Earlier this month, the county unveiled the design for its $131.7 million Crown Event Center, a multipurpose center in downtown Fayetteville that’s set to replace the Crown Theater and Arena, CityView reported.
Revenue from the food and beverage tax and the occupancy tax in the recommended budget will be used to finance that project.
The event center is set to open by November 2025.
The commissioners did not ask any questions following Grier’s presentation, but the board is scheduled to meet at 5:30 p.m. next Thursday in Room 564 of the Cumberland County Courthouse for a work session on the budget.
A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for 7 p.m. June 7 in Room 118 at the courthouse.
Ben Sessoms covers Fayetteville and education for CityView. He can be reached at email@example.com.