Southampton budget adoptedPublished 10:25am Friday, May 31, 2013
BY LUCY WALLACE/MANAGING EDITOR
COURTLAND—The Southampton County Board of Supervisors adopted the 2013-2014 fiscal year budget Tuesday night, with Newsoms District Supervisor Glenn Updike casting the lone dissenting vote. However, Supervisor Alan Edwards (Jerusalem District) said he supported it “reluctantly.”
The $52,469,561 balanced budget keeps the tax rate at its current 75 cents per $100 valuation and does not include a raise for employees. It does fund the purchase of 6-7 school buses by providing to the schools $70,000 to cover the first year of payments, but does not include the extra $670,000 in funding requested by the county school board.
The budget shows very little change from last year’s version.
The General Fund expenditures total $14,260,904, which includes $2.1 million for Government Administration; $1.8 million for Judicial Administration; $6.5 million for Public Safety (Sherriff, 911, rescue, fire, forestry, animal control); $2.4 million for public works (refuse collection and disposal and building and grounds); $73,874 for Health and Welfare (Health Dept., Senior Services, STOP Organization); $261,772 for Parks, Recreations and Cultural (Community Concert Association, Rawls Museum Arts, Historical Society and Rawls Library); $379,574 for Community Development (planning, soil and water, cooperative extension) and $15,974 for non-departmental operating expenses.
The Enterprise Fund (water and sewer) expenditures total $3.7 million; the Building Fund (capital projects) estimates $1.8 million; and the School fund, including Federal School Funds totals $29.1 million or 56 percent of the county’s total budget.
Berlin/Ivor District Supervisor Ron West made a motion to adopt the budget as advertised, which was seconded by Supervisor Barry Porter (Franklin District).
During discussion, Supervisor Updike said he didn’t follow the board’s line of thinking “one iota”. He said that borrowing money (to fund buses) over a 12-year period amounted to $8.5 million in borrowed capital. “This is not living within your means. I cannot in good conscious say we didn’t raise your taxes — we did — by four and a half cents. I can’t vote for a debt for future generations to pay off,” he said.
Porter said he viewed financial matters differently that Mr. Updike. “Do we need the buses — yes?
Will we buy them — yes? There is no obligation for future buses in this budget,” he said, adding that he feels the county will generate future revenue but the budget before them was the one needing to be passed based on current restraints.
West said he agreed with Porter, saying that setting up a structured payment plan was the way to make a big item purchase when you can’t pay cash. “This is the best way I know of to structure debt. This is the only way, “ he said.
Dr. Alan Edwards (Jerusalem District) said he debated whether or not to
say anything but indicated that during the budget process “a lot of things came and went that weren’t
done in a public manner,”
he said, “I support the budget reluctantly,” adding
that he hoped next year things “would be more public.”
Capron District Supervisor Bruce Phillips said that he thought the board had used the “knowledge gained” over the budget process “to arrive at the best possible budget under the circumstances.”
He added, “We need to fund the buses. I hope we can do better next year. We’ve done the best we can this year. Raising taxes was not part of what we wanted to do. The buses are needed right now. I am in favor of this budget.”
Supervisor Carl Faison was absent, so the budget passed with a 5-1 vote.