Chairman Susan B. Seward and Members of the Board of Supervisors:
I herewith transmit to you and the residents of Sussex County the proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2021 in the amount of $37,583,324. Please note that this amount includes the anticipated State and federal intergovernmental transfers of funds to the Sussex County Public School System in the amount of $11,169,761.
The overall proposed budget for FY21 is $348,522 more than last year’s adopted budget, reflecting a 1.01% increase above FY20.
The adopted General Fund budget is $23,591,556. The proposed School Board budget is $19,545,786 which includes local contributions for operations of $7,959,170 and $40,000 to support Information Technology salaries. The FY21 adopted capital projects’ budgets total $642,398.
This budget attempts to comply with the specific fiscal principles that govern budgeting. In regard to the operating budget, these principles require among other things, that:
The FY21 proposed budget is based on a real property tax rate of $.58 per $100 of assessed value. This represents no change in the adopted real estate tax rate. The FY21 General Property Tax revenue estimate is $10,031,910, an increase of $349,456 (or 1.04%) more than the current year’s estimate.
General Operations: The FY21 operating budget reflects incremental changes in various line items throughout the budget. The largest single expense is allocated for Education. The Sussex County School Board is requesting $7,999,170 in local funding for FY21 based on Average Daily Membership (ADM) projections of 1,016 students. This represents level funding.
Personnel salaries and related benefits for employees are the second largest expense incurred by Sussex County. Currently $8,968,637 is appropriated for personnel cost. This proposed budget includes full funding of Health Insurance premium increase. This will provide 100% funding for single coverage in the top tier plan offered. The adopted budget also includes a 3% cost-of-living (COLA) adjustment for all employees.
Capital Budgets: The Proposed FY21 Capital Budget (Fund 302) includes funding to purchase and/or lease-purchase eight vehicles ($277,326). Also, recurring funds for one lease-purchase contract from FY18 are included for seven Sheriff Patrol Vehicles ($73,500), one school bus ($27,000) and $150,000 towards a Fire-Truck Apparatus. In addition, $114,572 is included for repairs and improvements to County facilities and structures as well as equipment. The source of funds for the capital budget is provided through FY21 revenues from the General Fund. The Proposed FY2021 Capital Budget is year one of the five-year Capital Improvement Plan. Only year one is budgeted and appropriated. Years two through five are the plan for those years and amounts included in those years will be fine-tuned, as each of those years gets closer.
It is hoped that this budget reflects a reasonable and fair allocation of scarce resources in attempting to meet the County’s pressing social and economic issues. Additionally, this adopted financial plan attempts to incorporate some of the Board’s directives within the scope of available resources.
Larry Hughes, Interim County Administrator