Tax rates adjusted in proposed Southampton County budget

Published 8:00 am Thursday, April 18, 2024

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Southampton County Administrator Brian S. Thrower shared with the county’s Board of Supervisors on Wednesday, April 10, a summary of his proposed $86.5 million fiscal year 2025 county budget. It includes increases in personal property tax rates and a decrease in the real property tax rate.

“The proposed FY25 budget adheres to your recently adopted Financial Policy Guidelines, as well as includes many of the items you identified in your Vision and Strategic Priorities,” Thrower stated in an April 10 memorandum to board members. “Initiatives in the budget will move us closer to achieving your desired future for Southampton County in the following areas:

  • Thriving agriculture and forestry;
  • Strategic economic development;
  • Reliable public safety;
  • Exceptional education;
  • Community involvement;
  • Organizational effectiveness.”

Thrower noted that the proposed budget stands at $86,516,708, and expenditure totals broken out by fund are as follows:

  • General Fund: $26,303,033;
  • Enterprise Fund (water and sewer): $5,559,082;
  • Building Fund: $8,749,820;
  • Public Assistance Fund (Social Services): $3,192,150; 
  • School Food Services Fund: $1,549,148; and
  • School Fund: $41,163,475.

The proposed budget increases the personal property tax rate in the general and public service corporations categories from $4.70 to $5 per $100 of assessed value; it increases the personal property tax rate in the farm machinery category from $1.90 to $1.95 per $100 of assessed value; and it increases the personal property tax rate in the motor carriers category from $2.20 to $2.40 per $100 of assessed value.

“The personal property tax rate was previously set at $5 in the FY22 budget a couple years ago,” Thrower said during the April 10 meeting. “However, it was lowered to $4.60 in the ’23 budget to offset increases in valuations. The current rate, as you’re aware, is $4.70, and given the fact that vehicle valuations have stabilized over the last couple years, I’m recommending the rate be set back to the $5 rate that it previously was in prior years.”

He noted that one penny on a $5 personal property tax rate equates to $17,427.

Thrower noted that for the real property tax rate, he has proposed a decrease from 89 cents to 86 cents per $100 of assessed value.

“As you are aware, this is a reassessment year, which has resulted in a significant increase in assessments,” he stated. “The last reassessment was done in 2018.”

He indicated that per the new assessment figures, one penny on the real estate tax rate now equates to $213,628.


Thrower wrote in the memo that the proposed FY 2025 School Fund of $41,163,475 includes local funding of $13,170,741. That local funding total is broken down into $10,736,476 for operations and $2,434,265 for debt service.

The proposed amount for operations is a 5% increase ($511,261) from the FY 2024 approved figure of $10,225,215.

“Local funding for the school system supports your vision of having exceptional education in Southampton County,” Thrower said to board members.

He noted that Southampton County Public Schools’ total requested budget is $42,744,553, with local funding totaling $14,751,819. That local funding total is broken down into $12,317,554 for operations and $2,434,265 for debt service.


Thrower indicated that the proposed $8.75 million FY25 Building Fund primarily includes revenues and expenses associated with the courthouse project, the radio system project, Fire & Rescue capital projects and other related building and vehicle expenses.

He stated that other new capital expenditures (new financings) included the following:

  • Purchase of Public Works excavator (financed);
  • Purchase of rolloff truck (financed); 
  • Purchase of emergency services coordinator vehicle (financed); and 
  • Purchase of facilities management position vehicle (financed).


Thrower noted that the proposed $5.56 million FY25 Enterprise Fund includes a $2 increase to all water and sewer rates.


Thrower stated that the proposed $1,549,148 FY25 School Food Services Fund represents an increase of $3,718 over the FY24 budget.


Near the beginning of his summary, Thrower went over a list of personnel-related expenses in the proposed budget. The list included the following:

  • Cost of living adjustment increase for employees (3%);
  • Employee appreciation, recognition and wellness funding; 
  • Holiday bonus for each employee including Social Services;
  • Emergency services coordinator position;
  • Human resources/risk management & safety director position; 
  • Facilities management position (other half of cost from FY24 budget);
  • Public services worker position;
  • Custodian position (renovated courthouse);
  • Compensation and classification study — the last one done was in 2016, and best practice is to conduct one every three to five years;
  • Hiring/sign-on bonuses for sheriff’s office deputies and communications officers; and
  • Health insurance increase (overall 5.1%). 

Thrower also noted that other capital projects/expenditures and initiatives included the following:

  • Economic development site study — identify sites for future development; 
  • Facilities Master Plan — plan for needed expansion and renovation of county administration building/complex to include courthouse overflow parking;
  • Career and Technical Education funding — line item for future studies/programming/partnerships;
  • Water and sewer rate study — reduce the subsidy from the General Fund over time;
  • Volunteer fire and rescue funding — fully funds volunteer fire and rescue requests;
  • Volunteer fire and rescue vehicle tax exemption — exemption of one vehicle from personal property taxes; and
  • Budget stabilization fund — goal is to build up to targeted amount over the next three fiscal years.