Forsyth County commissioners approved a $458.7 million budget that includes investments in education, public safety and human services.
The adopted budget includes a three cent tax increase, bringing the property tax rate to 75.35 cents per $100 of valuation. One cent of that will generate an estimated $3.7 million for teacher supplements in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School System. Commissioners plan to repeal the one cent increase if voters approve a quarter cent county sales tax referendum next year that would pay for teacher supplements. The other two cent increase will be used to fund debt service for the construction of the new courthouse.
The budget also includes $182 million for school operations and debt service, which accounts for 40.1 percent of the overall county budget.
The budget includes five new positions to help with increasing demands on the Sheriff’s Office. It also funds the merger of Animal Services with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office and will keep the current Animal Services staff. Animal Services calls will be answered by the Sheriff’s Office call center, which is open around-the-clock every day, and deputy sheriffs will respond to calls, which should greatly increase response times.
The budget includes a health educator that will work with county departments and community partners on opioid prevention and education. It adds several positions to the Stepping Up Process to End Recidivism program, which reduces recidivism through support services for those with mental illness and substance use issues in the county jail. This will allow the program, which currently serves women, to expand and serve men as well. There were also seven positions added to Social Services in Child Protective Services and Economic Services.
There’s four additional assistant shift supervisors for Emergency Medical Services to help with increased call volumes, and a fire overlay district tax of .0073 cent for fire districts served by Volunteer Fire Departments that will fund an additional truck to support them.
The preliminary budget is still available to view online on the Budget Department website, http://www.forsyth.cc/Budget/. The final, approved budget will be available online later this month.