The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

June 28, 2013

County passes $58 million budget by 5-2 vote


TARBORO — Edgecombe County Board of Commissioners passed it's 2013-2014 budget by a 5-2 vote during a recessed meeting Thursday. Commissioners Billy Wooten and Donald Boswell voted against it.

The $58 million budget was perhaps one of the most scrutinized the county commissioners have worked on in several years. Drastic cuts were dealt to Public Schools Capital Outlay, ($500,000) Edgecombe Community College Capital Outlay ($54,000) and Edgecombe County Fire Departments ($87,615).

Officials from all three of those departments attended the boards June 2, meeting and plead against the cuts.

Boswell said it bothered him that the board had to cut essential services while  continuing to fund county recreation. Recreation was appropriated $28,000.

"I don't want anybody not to have what they need but sometimes I think we get confused between our needs and our wants," Boswell said. ...I hope we look closely at what we approved and by the time we get ready for the next budget,  find a fair way to do it if it is a fair way to do it, and cut across the board."

Commissioner Viola Harris responded to Boswell telling him that Education and fire department were not the only departments that received cuts. She also iterated that providing funds for county recreation is important.

The slow economy has created financial problems for just about all of North Carolina governments. The problem forced the county to dip in its reserves again to balance the budget. The new reserves is $5.3 million which is 6 percent of the county's budget. Last fiscal year the reserves was 9 percent.

County Manager Lorenzo Carmon said it is recommended by the Local Government Commission that the reserves to be at least 15 percent. Anything under 8 percent, could get the attention of the Local Government Commission Carmon added.

Although the county's budget has been passed, the state has put the county in limbo because it has not passed its 2013-2014 budget due to House and the State legislators disagreements. A interim budget has been passed until July 31. Carmon crossing his fingers that the House version passes.

"The Senate Tax Reform measure they are considering could have major impact on us to the tune of $700,000," Carmon said. "That's going to be about 2.5 to 3 percent on our tax rate. If they do that we may have to send some warm bodies home in the future.

"If the House version is passed, we'll come out smelling a lot better. About $600,000 to the good."

In another item not concerning the budget the board voted 6-1 to delegate Harris to represent Edgecombe County as a voting member at the National Association of Counties 78th annual conference July 19-22 in Texas.

Travel expense and room and board is between $2,000 to $3,000 Carmon said. Wooten opposed it stating "In light of our budget, I don't think we should be sending someone to Texas."

Carmon said the county have not put freeze on travel.