Commissioners take budget look Monday

By Bob Shiles -

LUMBERTON — County Manager Ricky Harris doesn’t expect many changes Monday when the county commissioners hold another workshop on his budget plan for the 2017-18 fiscal year that begins July 1.

“There will probably be some minor tweaking and some changes in special appropriations and that’s about it,” Harris said.

The county’s plan is to hold a public hearing on the budget on June 19, and perhaps adopt it the same night.

Harris has recommended a budget totaling just under $149 million, down from the current year’s budget of about $153.2 million. He originally had suggested that the county’s property tax rate of 77 cents per $100 of property value, the 25th highest in the state, be increased by 2 cents in order to generate another $1 million in revenue. The commissioners, however, took an immediate unanimous position against any property tax increase.

At a work session two weeks ago, the commissioners let stand Harris’ recommendation that all special appropriations except for the Public Schools of Robeson County, Robeson Community College, and the Robeson County Public Library remain the same as the current year. Under the proposal, the public schools will receive an additional $600,000 in the form of free county water and solid waste disposal; RCC will get an additional $200,000, up from $100,000 to $300,000; and the library will get an extra $10,000, up from $470,000 to $480,000.

The additional $600,000 going to the schools is far below the $3.4 million in additional funds the school district is requesting. During their last work session, the commissioners received a written request from the schools for the $3.4 million, a majority of which would be used to increase supplements paid teachers and place a school resource officer for security purposes in each of the district’s schools.

No one from the schools was present at the meeting, and the commissioners did not discuss the request.

The commissioners on Monday will also hold a regular monthly meeting, during which they will:

— Consider a request that a 30.32-acre tract in Saddletree be rezoned from a Heavy Industrial to Residential Agricultural to allow for residential living.

— Consider requests for five conditional-use permits. These include permits to establish a storage and auction facility for damaged vehicles in a Heavy Industrial area in Raft Swamp; place a wireless telecommunications tower in a Residential Agricultural district in Wisharts; place a third dwelling on property in a Residential Agricultural district in Orrum; establish a mechanic and auto body shop in a Residential Agricultural district in Shannon; and establish a catering service in a Residential Agricultural district in Pembroke.

— Hear a presentation from David Powell, director of the Offenders Resources Center, on the status of the offender Re-entry Program.

— Hear a presentation on the N.C. Development Initiative Capital-Small Business/Housing Disaster Recovery Program.

— Hear a presentation from David Richardson, area agency aging program director for the Lumber River Council of Governments, on Home and Community Care Block Grant funds.

— Consider appointments to the Transportation Advisory Committee, Airport Commission and Robeson Community College board of trustees.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the county administration building on North Elm Street in downtown Lumberton.

Ricky Harris
Ricky Harris

By Bob Shiles

Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.

Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.

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