06/05/17 — Public to offer input on budget

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Public to offer input on budget

By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 5, 2017 7:02 AM

The public will have the opportunity Tuesday morning to comment on Wayne County $157 million budget proposal that could include a 2.46 cent property tax increase.

Whether the increase is needed will depend on the state budget.

To that end Wayne County commissioners have said they will adopt an interim budget so that they will not have to set a tax levy until the state budget is finalized.

The hearing also will include comments on the county's capital improvement plan.

The public hearing will be held at 9:30 a.m. in the commissioners' meeting room on the fourth floor of the Wayne County Courthouse Annex.

It is one of two hearings to be held.

The first will be at 9:15 a.m. on adoption of a Wayne County Incentive Grant.

The grant amount and the name of the industry will be announced at the hearing.

The grants are in the form of an annual tax rebate for taxes paid in by the company over a five-year period.

Once the five years are over, the tax rebate would end, and the county would keep the full tax payment.

Also, if the company fails to meet the promised number of jobs, the county may reduce the payment amount of the grant by 5 percent of the county's current average wage for every job shortfall.

Tuesday's meeting will begin with an 8 a.m. agenda briefing followed by the formal session at 9 a.m., both in the commissioners' meeting room.

In his original budget recommendation County Manager George Wood did not include a tax increase or in increase in fees.

Commissioners began to discuss the need for the increase after the Wayne County Public Schools System learned it would lose nearly $4 million in state low-wealth funding because the county tax rate does not meet the state threshold to receive the money.

Wood recommended the 2.46 cent property tax increase as a less-expensive option to trying to keep pace with the state threshold that changes annually.

State law requires that the board adopt a budget and tax rate prior to July 1. Once a tax levy is set it cannot be changed until the following budget.

But before committing to a tax increase, commissioners want to wait to see what state lawmakers do about a provision in the House budget proposal.

The provision provides an exception to the threshold for counties where military bases are located as long as the county's school system has an average daily membership of more than 23,000 students.

In those cases, the schools would receive the same amount of supplemental funding for low-wealth counties that they received in fiscal year 2012-13.

The provision is not in the Senate version of the budget.

The board is lobbying not only to keep that provision in the final budget, but to have the number reduced to 17,000 or 17,500 in order to fall under the exemption.

Wayne County's current average daily membership is around 18,826.

The tax increase would not be needed if the provision is kept and the threshold dropped to that 17,000 or 17,500Wayne County is designated as a low-wealth county by the state making it eligible to receive state low-wealth education funding.

Some commissioners have said they feel the change will be made.

However, if the increase is needed, commissioners could decide to replace the lost funds with the full 2.46 cents or with a mixture of a tax increase and fund balance.

Commissioners have met three times since their May 16 regular session to review the budget.

They are expected to continue those discussions at the end of their Tuesday session.

In other business, commissioners will consider motions to:

* Approve a resolution opposing Senate Bill 594/House Bill 608, the Family/Child Protection and Accountability Act, which call for the development of a plan to regionalize county departments of social services into 30 or fewer regional departments.

* Approve the sale of real property jointly owned with the city of Goldsboro at 830 N. John St. and on Mimosa Street.

* Authorize Chairman Bill Pate and the Clerk to the Board Carol Bowden to sign an agreement for construction of a shell industrial building in Park East Industrial Park.

* Authorize Wood to issue a request for proposals for the shell building.

* Authorize Pate and Mrs. Bowden to sign an agreement for the development of an industrial park.

* Authorize Pate and Mrs. Bowden so sign an options agreement with Bryan Holdings, LLC for the purchase of property for an industrial park.

* Award a contract in the amount of $1,557,921.85 to Trader Construction for the street repairs in Canterbury Village and North Creek subdivisions.

* Extend to June 30 the waiver of certain county fees relating to Hurricane Matthew and subsequent flooding damage.

Items on the consent agenda include: Application for Present Use Value; budget amendments; motion to approve East Coast Pyrotechnics to use fireworks on July 4 at Berkeley Mall as approved by Goldsboro Fire Marshal John Morton; motion to approve Zambelli Fireworks/Bob Wiethe to use fireworks on July I with a rain date of July 8 in Pikeville as approved by Steve Stroud of the Wayne County Inspections Department.

Public comments will start at 9:05 a.m. Speakers will have four minutes to comment on their topic of choice.