Gaston County approves 2.5% property tax rate cut in new budget

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Gaston County homeowners will pass less in property taxes, thanks to the county’s newly-approved budget.

In a 5 to 2 vote, county commissioners approved the budget on Tuesday night. Included was a two-cent, 2.5% decrease to the property tax rate.

The new property tax rate level is at 81 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. Gaston County officials said that rate is now the lowest in the county since 1996.

“We wanted to strike an appropriate balance between providing financial relief to residents and ensuring we are properly funding the services our county government provides that so many of our residents depend upon,” Board of Commissioners Chairman Chad Brown said in a statement.

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For the second consecutive year, the budget was balanced without the use of fund balance, according to Gaston County officials.

“Fund balance is essentially a county’s savings account, and having a healthy balance is critical for being prepared to endure an economic crisis like a recession, or take advantage of economic opportunities to bring jobs to the county, such as with the county’s investment in the Apple Creek Corporate Center,” the county said in a news release. “Improving and preserving the county’s fund balance was critical for helping the County to recently receive a bond upgrade rating from Moody’s Investors Service.”

The only new positions in the budget are those entirely supported by fees. However, the commissioners approved a 6% merit pool for county employees to help offset some of the pressure brought on by inflation. The merit-based pay plan, which was implemented two years prior, has already paid off -- the county has seen a decrease in its turnover rate in the last year.

The budget also allows for partial spending on the first year of a five-year Capital Improvement Plan, which was created to identify and prioritize Gaston County’s top capital needs. Projects included as part of that plan include the construction of a public safety fueling facility and an expansion of the county’s new fleet maintenance facility along Long Avenue in Gastonia.

The CIP also includes increased funding for Gaston College and Gaston Public Schools for capital needs as well as operating expense increases.

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