2017-2018 County Budget Message

Johnston County
Fiscal Year 2017 – 2018
Budget Message


Dear Board Members,

The proposed Fiscal Year 2017-2018 General Fund budget is presented at the current 78 cents property tax rate. The proposed $220 million budget is 4% higher than the adopted current Fiscal Year 2016-2017 General Fund budget. Based on the April 30, 2017 financial analysis and projections, the June 30, 2018 fund balance percentage is anticipated to exceed 20%, which is in compliance with the Board’s adopted Financial Policy Guidelines.      

Johnston County is a great place to do business and the continued expansion of local industries and businesses is anticipated.  Increases in building permit activity and sales tax revenue are proof the local economy is improving.  Tens of thousands of people traveling through Johnston County stop every day and stay in hotels, shop and dine at local restaurants.  Recent statistics from the US Census show Johnston County is one of the fastest growing counties in the southeastern part of the United States.  The County’s population is 192,000 and is expected to top 200,000 by early 2019.  

The first debt payment for the $30 million capital improvement program for Johnston County Schools is included in the proposed budget.  These projects were recently identified by Johnston County Schools for renovations and updates for some of the older schools.  Discussions are underway for a potential bond referendum in 2018.  No formal plan or approvals have taken place at this point.  The Johnston County Board of Commissioners, working closely with Johnston County Schools and Johnston Community College, have planned and built more than $450 million in new projects since the 1999 bond referendums.  A tremendous thank you goes to the voters in Johnston County that passed all five referendums since 1999 by a 3:1 margin.  It is important to note that the property tax rate has never been raised during this 18-year span.

Another piece of exciting news for Johnston County was the bond rating upgrade last year from Moody’s Investors Services.  With this upgrade, the County is now only one step away from a AAA rating from both Moody’s Investors Services and Standard and Poor’s.  Strong bond ratings are an indicator of an organization’s ability to pay debt service in a timely fashion.  The primary benefit from strong bond ratings is lower debt service costs for Johnston County taxpayers.  The County recently refinanced $19 million at a rate of 2.47% which generated total savings close to $1 million.


The proposed budget includes 3.1% increases in current expense funding for both Johnston County Schools and Johnston Community College. The actual numbers are as follows:


  Current Expense Capital Outlay
Johnston County Schools $58,604,953 $1,055,750
Johnston Community College $4,318,859 $545,000




The proposed budget includes a 1.9% pay adjustment in July and funds for performance pay adjustments (up to 1.1%) in the fall based on employee reviews. Funds have also been included to transition into a restructured longevity pay program (details of the first year proposal are included in the “Supporting Documentation” section of the budget document). Finally, funds are budgeted to continue addressing salary compression as well as any necessary reclassifications.  

Funds to begin the management and operation of Selma EMS have been included. It is anticipated that 25 positions will be needed for this transition. I would respectfully request the authority to add any additional positions (above the 25) during this transition if needed.  I would certainly keep the Board informed

Outside of the Selma EMS transition, there are eight (8) new positions from the General Fund and four (4) new positions from the Enterprise Fund requested in the proposed budget, as follows

General Fund

Sheriff’s Office -- 4 for Detention Center

Emergency Services -- 1 Fire Inspector for schools and 1 Logistics Officer

Environmental Health -- 1 Inspector

Building and Grounds -- 1 Plumbing Position

Enterprise Fund

Public Utilities -- 2 Water Treatment Plant Operators and 2 Utility Maintenance employees.

The Public Utilities Office recently contracted with Willdan Financial Services to complete a water and wastewater rate study.  This information was presented to the Board of Commissioners at the May 1, 2017 regular meeting.  The scope of the study was to develop a short and long range financial tool for capital planning.  As a reminder, our water and wastewater programs are enterprise funds and are self-supporting.  Most of the Public Utilities related fees are recommended for rate increases.  As a courtesy, the Public Utilities Department has notified all bulk customers that increases have been recommended and are subject to review by the Board of Commissioners.  A comprehensive list of recommended water and wastewater fee adjustments are attached. 

Staff looks forward to discussing the proposed budget at the upcoming budget meetings, as follows: 

June 5, 2017 – 10:00 AM Regular Meeting (Required Budget Public Hearing)
June 12, 2017 – 6:00 p.m.
June 19, 2017 – 6:00 p.m.
June 26, 2017 – 8:30 a.m. (anticipated budget adoption)

Please let me know if you have any questions.  Thank you.




Rick J. Hester

County Manager 

Proposed Water & Sewer Rate Adjustments for FY 17/18

Water Rates



Retail Monthly Service Base Charge *

     ¾” – 1” Meter

     1 ½” Meter

     2” Meter

     3” Meter

     4” Meter

     6” Meter

     8” Meter

     10” Meter

     12” Meter





















Retail Commodity Charge

$3.25/1,000 gallons

$3.45/1,000 gallons

Residential Conservation Charge

    5,000 – 9,000 gallons per month

    10,000 – 14,000 gallons per month

    15,000 gallons or more per month


$4.00/1,000 gallons

$4.75/1,000 gallons

$5.25/1,000 gallons


$4.25/1,000 gallons

$5.05/1,000 gallons

$5.60/1,000 gallons

Residential and Commercial Metered Irrigation Usage

$4.25/1,000 gallons

$4.50/1,000 gallons

Assessment Fee





$3.25/gpd or $650.00/service (whichever is greater)



$3.90/gpd or $780.00/service (whichever is greater)

Hydrant Meter Commodity Charge

$6.50/1,000 gallons

$6.90/1,000 gallons

Bulk Commodity Charge**

$2.15/1,000 gallons

$2.28/1,000 gallons

Bulk Capacity Fee**

$3.25/gpd of avg capacity

$3.90/gpd of avg capacity

Water District Contract Services

$1.25/1,000 gallons

$1.33/1,000 gallons

**Recommended implementation date of September 1, 2017 for towns and private utility companies.

Sewer Rates



Retail Monthly Service Base Charge

     ¾” – 1” Meter

     Devil’s Racetrack (3/4”)

     1 ½” Meter

     Devil’s Racetrack (1 ½”)

     2” Meter

     3” Meter

     4” Meter

     6” Meter

     8” Meter





















Retail Commodity Charge

$4.80/1,000 gallons

$5.10/1,000 gallons

Retail Commodity Charge for wastewater tributary to on-site wastewater treatment and disposal facilities

$6.18/1,000 gallons

$6.55/1,000 gallons

Assessment Fee For Customers Tributary to Other Public WWTP’s

$1,800/unit or $7.50/gpd (whichever is greater)

Eliminate this rate option.  All County retail customers to pay the same rate.

Bulk Commodity Charge (Transmission)*

    Town of Smithfield

    Town of Selma

    Town of Pine Level/Four Oaks/Clayton


$0.48/1,000 gallons

$0.78/1,000 gallons

$0.92/1,000 gallons


$0.51/1,000 gallons

$0.83/1,000 gallons

$0.98/1,000 gallons

Bulk Commodity Charge (Treatment)*

    Smithfield/Selma Pine Level/Four Oaks


    Carolina Water Service


$2.80/1,000 gallons

$1.93/1,000 gallons

$4.55/1,000 gallons


$2.98/1,000 gallons

$2.05/1,000 gallons

$4.82/1,000 gallons

High Strength Surcharge:

     Town of Clayton


$1.90/1,000 gallons


$2.01/1,000 gallons

*Recommended implementation date of September 1, 2017 for towns and private utility companies.

Retail Water and/or Sewer Service







^The deposit is a one-time payment per service made at the time of application for water or sewer service.  Where service continues for at least 12 months with each payment received by the due date, the account holder may request in writing a refund of the deposit which will be applied to the account balance.