159-11.  Preparation and submission of budget and budget message.

(a)        Upon receipt of the budget requests and revenue estimates and the financial information supplied by the finance officer and department heads, the budget officer shall prepare a budget for consideration by the governing board in such form and detail as may have been prescribed by the budget officer or the governing board. The budget shall comply in all respects with the limitations imposed by G.S. 159-13(b), and unless the governing board shall have authorized or requested submission of an unbalanced budget as provided in subsection (c) of this section, the budget shall be balanced.

(b)        The budget, together with a budget message, shall be submitted to the governing board not later than June 1. The budget and budget message should, but need not, be submitted at a formal meeting of the board. The budget message should contain a concise explanation of the governmental goals fixed by the budget for the budget year, should explain important features of the activities anticipated in the budget, should set forth the reasons for stated changes from the previous year in program goals, programs, and appropriation levels, and should explain any major changes in fiscal policy.

(c)        The governing board may authorize or request the budget officer to submit a budget containing recommended appropriations in excess of estimated revenues. If this is done, the budget officer shall present the appropriations recommendations in a manner that will reveal for the governing board the nature of the activities supported by the expenditures that exceed estimated revenues.

(d)       The budget officer shall include in the budget a proposed financial plan for each intragovernmental service fund, as required by G.S. 159-13.1, and information concerning capital projects and grant projects authorized or to be authorized by project ordinances, as required by G.S. 159-13.2.

(e)        In each year in which a general reappraisal of real property has been conducted, the budget officer shall include in the budget, for comparison purposes, a statement of the revenue-neutral property tax rate for the budget. The revenue-neutral property tax rate is the rate that is estimated to produce revenue for the next fiscal year equal to the revenue that would have been produced for the next fiscal year by the current tax rate if no reappraisal had occurred. To calculate the revenue-neutral tax rate, the budget officer shall first determine a rate that would produce revenues equal to those produced for the current fiscal year and then increase the rate by a growth factor equal to the average annual percentage increase in the tax base due to improvements since the last general reappraisal. This growth factor represents the expected percentage increase in the value of the tax base due to improvements during the next fiscal year. The budget officer shall further adjust the rate to account for any annexation, deannexation, merger, or similar event. (1927, c. 146, s. 6; 1955, cc. 698, 724; 1969, c. 976, s. 1; 1971, c. 780, s. 1; 1975, c. 514, s. 4; 1979, c. 402, s. 2; 2003-264, s. 1.)