The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

February 24, 2013

Council, town staff gather for budgeting retreat

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series of stories on the challenges facing the Town of Tarboro as 2013-2014 budget process gets under way.)

The Daily Southerner
Staff reporter

TARBORO — Deteriorating equipment and necessary repairs to the sewer and water systems were key items presented to members of the Tarboro Town Council by town staff members as the town held its annual budget retreat Saturday at the Fountains of the Albemarle.

By the time the seven-hour session was finished, council members were thanking department heads for the depth of he detail they included in their presentations and praising the scope of the session.

“This is the best, most-detailed retreat I’ve participated in,” noted council member Gerrelene Walker.

Likewise, council members Rick Page, Deborah Jordan and Candis Owens echoed Walker’s opinion.

“You are in a difficult position,” Page told department heads. “To keep from raising taxes, previous councils deferred maintenance and laid off personnel. You’re left to deal with that, but you’re doing a good job. It’s not going to be easy, but we’re going to get it done.”

Saturday’s meeting got under way with Finance Director Karla McCall giving an overview of the town’s financial situation, tracking trends in the general fund as well as he various enterprise funds — those which could run as a separate business with revenue and expenses.

McCall also told council members of the possibility that the town’s finances could start the year $238,000 short because of the possible removal of the hold harmless business inventory fund by the state and the loss of revenue created by the closure of Internet cafés. The fund loss represents $193,000 and the Internet café closures represents another $45,000.

“The policy of the town has been to pay as you go,” Town Manager Alan Thornton told the gathering. “We don’t really have any capital resources left to do that anymore … we will look a other funding options.”

Reports were presented to the council McCall, Public Works Director Troy Lewis, Utilities Director Buddy Harrison, Fire Chief Frankie Winslow, Police Chief Damon Williams, Planning Director Josh Edmondson and Parks and Recreation Director Cheryl Gay.

Department heads will meet with Thornton as budget development gets under way and Saturday’s session was designed to provide council members with a snapshot of the overall condition of the town’s position. Mayor Donald Morris did not attend because of illness.

(COMING WEDNESDAY: Finances and financial trends.)