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Forsyth County budget proposal includes limited new spending, higher tax rate

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.– Forsyth County Manager Dudley Watts has proposed a budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year that calls for limited new spending and a 10% higher tax rate.

Watts is proposing a general fund budget of $405.8 million, an $11.7 million increase from the current budget of $394.1 million. That amount adds about $2.3 million more for the public schools, $1.1 million more to pay county debts and $600,000 to finish a program that turns all emergency services shifts to 12 hours.

Watts is proposing a tax rate hike of 10% making the rate 74.18 cents for every $100 of property. The current tax rate is 67.4 cents.

Watts says while the increase is the highest in county history, it is what he calls “revenue-neutral”.

"What's happened is property values for the first time in the history of Forsyth County have come down.  This time we are having to raise the rate to generate the same amount of revenue to give you allowance for annual growth," said Watts.

Across the county more than 90% of property values went down.

Some homeowners whose values changed slightly or not at all, say the hike will greatly impact their bottom line.

"I feel sure it will,  I feel sure it will. I think there is a lot of ways to trim waste without effecting the tax payer and I just think that could be done without such a hike," said homeowner Nancy Shelton.

Shelton's home value went down only slightly in value so she fears a rate hike will increase her bill. Being retired, she says that means taking money she depends on.

"If your having to pay more and not getting anymore benefits how can you be happy about that," said Shelton.

County commissioners begin debating the budget and possible tax rate hike later this month.