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Edgecombe board OKs budget

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BY JOHN H. WALKER
Staff Writer

Saturday, June 8, 2019

TARBORO — Edgecombe County commissioners on Monday approved a $76,830,876 budget that includes a 4 percent cost-of-living increase for employees and maintains a property tax rate of 95 cents per $100 valuation for fiscal year 2019-20.

The budget vote was — as were all votes taken at the meeting — unanimous with commissioners Billy Wooten and E. Waynes Hones absent.

County Manager Eric Evans told commissioners the budget he proposed represents an increase of 3.1 percent, or $2,375,646, from the original budget for the current year. The budget includes a fund balance appropriation of $6,915,371 from the General Fund, which compares to an appropriation of $4,863,290 in this year’s original budget.

Evans said he did not anticipate any significant changes in any of the county’s revenue streams and projected total general revenues of $59,035,501.

He did say he expects the tax collection rate to end the year at or slightly below the collection rate from last fiscal year and that sales tax revenues are trending upward slightly.

He told commissioners that in preparing the budget, he held most of the revenue streams flat and those that were increased were done so only marginally.

Evans told commissioners there will be a 2 percent increase in employee health insurance premiums, which is considerably less than double-digit increases other counties are experiencing. Evans said the county will still offer a Health Savings Account that includes a $750 contribution by the county.

He said that in an effort to maintain health care costs, the county, which is self-insured, will continue to offer health screenings for all individuals participating in the plan. Employees who choose not to participate in the screenings will pay $50 toward the cost of their insurance.

Additionally, the county will continue its health coaching component of its wellness program as well as the current wellness incentive of $250.

The budget includes $980,201 in capital expenditures, which is down more that $400,000 from the current budget. Equipment represents $125,631 of that total, with $160,000 for heavy equipment, $280,570 for vehicles, $282,000 for buildings and grounds and $132,000 to the debt of patrol cars.

There will be no increase in solid waste fees to residents although the county’s contract to haul municipal solid waste to the regional landfill is increasing to $41.98 from $40.60. Evans said he will wait until he sees the impact of the increase on the cost of county operations before recommending an increase to the public tipping fee.

Outside agencies requested a total of $15,256,626, which was $1.4 million above what was allocated for the current year. With two exceptions — Edgecombe County Public Schools and Edgecombe Community College — none of the agencies received an increase over current year funding.

Edgecombe schools requested an additional $940,287 in operating funds and $385,000 in additional capital outlay. Commissioners approved $187,459 to sustain supplements in light of state pay raises and $120,828 for raises for locally funded positions commensurate with state raises. ECC requested an additional $254,607 and received $73,000 for HVAC system repairs and $78,000 for additional operating costs for the Center for Innovation for the period of August through June 2020.

There was minimal discussion in regard to the budget, either from the commissioners or the public.

Only Judge Walter Godwin, senior resident judge on the 7th Judicial District, who raised concerns about an impending change that would place 17- and 18-year-olds in the juvenile system, and Sheriff Clee Atkinson, who asked for consideration of additional funding for his agency, addressed the commissioners.

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