Iredell County to dip into fund balance

Iredell County commissioners unanimously approved a 2008-09 budget that keeps the tax rate at 44.5cents per $100 assessed valuation but uses $5 million of the county's fund balance.

“It's been a tough year,” County Manager Joel Mashburn said before last week's vote. “Sales taxes did not generate as much as in the past, and the tax base didn't grow as much as in previous years.”

The county still has a $23million, or 12.5 percent, fund balance, Mashburn said. While the fund balance is still at a relatively healthy level, some N.C. communities maintain balances of 18 percent or more, Iredell officials said.

The fund balance “is for times like this, in a downturn,” commissioner Godfrey Williams said.

The $169 million budget also includes fewer new hires than in years past.

It creates eight positions, compared with 46 last year. Seven new jobs are in public safety and one in recreation.

County employees will receive a 2.5 percent raise and are eligible for merit increases of up to 4 percent.

Holding the line on property taxes is good news for Mooresville residents, who face a town tax increase of 3 cents per $100 valuation when town commissioners are expected to approve their 2008-09 budget on Monday night.