The Alamance County Board of Commissioners met on Tuesday afternoon for the first discussion of the county manager’s proposed $217.5 million budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

County Manager Heidi York’s proposed budget, which officials emphasized will come in for changes, calls for a 7% increase in spending from the current year’s budget of $203.2 million. That includes $56.6 million for the Alamance-Burlington School System, up $1.39 million, or 2.5%, from the current year’s budget of $55.2 million.

It would set the property tax rate at 45.43 cents for every $100 of value. There is not a direct comparison with the current tax rate because of a countywide property valuation that raised the total value of property, but the tax rate needed to keep the total amount of revenue raised even would be 42.59 cents. The rate needed to maintain current budget items adjusted for inflation would be 43.51 cents.

While no numbers are set in stone, the commissioners each had questions and comments on the proposed budget. At times, it got a bit testy.

One exchange between Commissioners Pamela Thompson and Bill Lashley had to be gaveled by chair John P. Paisley.

Thompson wanted more funding for the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Social Services and asked why, for the years of 2021 and 2022, the board didn’t raise taxes to aid in retention and hiring for these positions.

Lashley responded, “That money went back into the pockets of our taxpayers.”

Thompson replied, “I only got fifteen bucks in mine.”

Paisley urged the commissioners to stick to the task at hand.

“We don’t need to plow old ground,” he said.

Lashley also opposed $400,000 proposed to the Burlington Alamance Airport Authority to make accommodations for Labcorp moving two $51 million planes to Burlington-Alamance Regional Airport from Guilford County.

Lashley said that Labcorp stands to have substantial tax savings from the move, so Alamance taxpayers should not have to pay for changes at the airport.

“They would get around a $300,000 break (per year). They could pay for this expansion themselves. This is corporate welfare at its worse,” Lashley said.

The first public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled for June 5, with a work session for the commissioners the next day. The budget has to be approved by the end of June.