By Nathan Ham
On Tuesday, Watauga County Commissioners voted to unanimously approve the budget for the upcoming 2018-19 fiscal year.
The budget includes an increase in money going to Watauga County Schools as well as Appalachian District Health, the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office, the Watauga County Public Library and over $15 million set aside that will go towards the new Watauga County Recreation Center.
Other highlights of the budget include expected total revenues of $51.6 million with the largest expenditures going towards public safety ($11.3 million) and education ($15.2 million).
Most all county full-time employee salaries will increase as part of the 2018-19 budget for annual cost of living increases. Administration department salaries increase from $281,215 to $308,590. Finance department salaries increase from $266,023 to $276,670. License plate agency salaries will increase from $114,341 to $119,020. Board of Elections salaries will increase from $119,574 to $124,250. Register of Deeds salaries will get a bump up from $311,871 to $324,830. In the information technology department, salaries will rise from $328,745 to $342,785. The maintenance department will see a salary boost from $724,378 to $774,015. Planning and inspections will see a salary increase from $447,705 to $457,495. Animal control salaries will rise from $76,102 to $79,235.
Cooperative extension ($170,745 to $174,065), Soil and Water Conservation ($73,532 to $76,780), Project on Aging ($738,359 to $768,635), recreation administration ($168,461 to $175,860) and Veteran’s services ($77,870 to $81,220) saw increases in pay in each department.
In the sheriff’s department, salaries will also get a bit of an increase from $2,304,013 to $2,382,185. There will also be an extra $100,000 set-aside for additional Student Resource Officers (SRO) and training to be determined at a later time and $125,000 for six new vehicles.
Detention center employee salaries also increased from $1,084,464 to $1,127,410. Emergency services salaries will increase from $563,556 to $582,575 and emergency management salaries will jump from $187,289 to $197,680.
The Watauga County Public Library will receive $604,760 with the bulk of that going to increase salaries for the employees.
Area schools will also see a boost in money compared to last year’s budget. Watauga County Schools will receive and extra $400,000 as well as an additional $2 million in the capital improvement plan and Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute will receive $950,250, an increase of $25,000 from last year.
The complete 2018-19 budget for Watauga County can be found here.