06/16/14 — County board poised to approve budget

View Archive

County board poised to approve budget

By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 16, 2014 1:46 PM

Wayne County commissioners are expected to adopt a $136 million budget Tuesday for 2014-15 that does not raise the tax rate nor increase user fees.

Commissioners also are expected to select an architectural firm to design the county's proposed $12 million agriculture center and to authorize County Manager George Wood and Commissioner Bill Pate, the chairman of the Agriculture Committee, to negotiate the contract for the work.

Three public hearings are on tap starting at 9:15 a.m.

The session will get under way with an 8 a.m. agenda briefing followed by the regular meeting at 9 a.m. The meetings will be held in the commissioners' meeting room on the fourth floor of the county courthouse annex.

As proposed, the budget maintains the current tax rate of 66.65 cents per $100 worth of property.

It contains no salary increase for employees, but it would provide a $500 bonus for all full-time county employees working 40 hours a week.

Part-time employees would receive a pro-rated bonus compared to a standard 40-hour week.

The bonuses would be paid in September.

During a budget work session on June 3, commissioners tentatively agreed to cut $530,000 from general fund expenditures. For the most part, the cuts centered on delaying vehicle or equipment purchases or trimming line items whose histories were markedly lower than what had been recommended in the budget.

Wood was instructed to check with the departments affected by the cuts to ensure the reductions would not adversely affect operations and to report back to commissioners.

The Agriculture Committee's Facilities Subcommittee spent about five hours on June 5 listening to five firms as they took turns detailing their experiences and explaining why they are the company best suited to do the job.

The five companies making presentation were Hobbs Architects of Pittsboro, Oakley Collier of Rocky Mount, HH Architecture of Raleigh, MHA Works of Greenville and Bowman Murray Hemingway of Wilmington.

The plans are needed before the county can appeal to the federal government for financial help.

The 56,565-square-foot, two-story center would house the Cooperative Extension Service, Cherry Farm administration, Center for Environmental Farming Systems, Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Wayne County Soil and Water. It would include classrooms and an auditorium that could accommodate up to 378 people in banquet-style seating or 528 in auditorium-style seating.

Recently, state Sens. Louis Pate of Mount Olive and Don Davis of Snow Hill filed a bill seeking a $3 million state appropriation for the project.

The county has asked the state to convey the old state-owned dairy site on Old Smithfield Road to be used as the location for the center.

Commissioners last fall appropriated $2 million for the project.

The public hearings on the agenda are:

* A proposed amendment to the county's zoning ordinance to allow communications towers as a special use in the Light Industry Zone.

* A request to rezone property at 3337 U.S. 13 South from residential/ agriculture and village district to community shopping.

* A request to rezone property at 5413 U.S. 117 North, Pikeville from residential/agriculture to community shopping.

In other business, commissioners will consider approving a $272,400 contract with Southern Health Partners to provide inmate health care. The cost would increase by 2 percent in both the second and third years. However, the hours of care would increase by 11 hours daily. The contract was pulled from the board's June 3 session to allow County Attorney Borden Parker time to review it.

Also, commissioners will be asked to approve a county purchasing and procedures manual.

There are two items on the consent agenda -- applications for present use value and for property tax exemption.

Public comments will be received at 10 a.m., when people will have four minutes to speak on their topic of choice.