No miracles likely in Vance budget

Vance County’s department heads have until the third week of April to complete their budget request documents, and County Manager Jerry Ayscue said it’s clear from the outset that this will be another tough budget year.

In giving the department heads a frame of reference, Ayscue said, “what I’ve said is don’t expect any miracles in terms of revenues.”

While retails sales, and with them the sales tax, are growing, the property tax base is stagnant, and “economic times are very difficult now,” Ayscue said. And with the state confronting a billion-dollar hole in its own budget, the money it sends to Vance County isn’t likely to increase and might be cut.

“You have to be realistic, and you have to be philosophical as well,” the county manager said. Philosophically, he believes that it’s the responsibility of the department heads to assess what they need to deliver their services. Realistically, they shouldn’t expect any big budget increases in the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Once the departments submit requests, “that’s where, at the staff level, I get involved,” Ayscue said. “We begin to research and review requests so we can develop a budget that we feel like we can justify and is appropriate.”

He did not speculate Tuesday on the odds of a property tax increase. Last year he proposed a 4-cent increase in the tax rate, but the commissioners managed to approve a budget that kept the rate at 90 cents per $100 valuation.

While Vance County is behind Henderson in the budget process this year — city department heads had to submit their requests by March 14 — the county is following its typical pattern and schedule, the county manager said.

Ayscue said his formal budget presentation to the Board of Commissioners should come in late May, and the public hearing on the budget will likely be on June 6, the first Monday in June.

Budget deliberations should continue through mid-June, and the commissioners should pass a budget by late June, Ayscue said.