06/13/04 — ECC adopts budget

View Archive

ECC adopts budget

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on June 13, 2004 2:06 AM

KINSTON -- A government agency that helps nine counties, including Wayne and Duplin, adopted its new budget last week.

About 60 people who are members of the Eastern Carolina Council passed the budget Thursday night at King's Restaurant in Kinston. The $5 million budget gives a 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment to all the council employees and another 3 percent raise to those who work with the elderly.

Some members of the council's executive committee had objected last month to giving the raises. A split vote sent the budget forward to the full membership Thursday night to decide.

Nobody commented during the public hearing, and nobody said anything when President Joe Himbry of Bayboro called for discussion on the matter. The vote was unanimous.

The council's region spans nine counties -- Wayne, Duplin, Lenoir, Green, Jones, Onslow, Craven, Pamlico and Carteret.

It's the second largest council of governments in the state, after Raleigh's region.

Council Director Larry Moolenaar said the raise will correct a big salary discrepancy between the council's people who work with the elderly and those who work on other projects like land-use and transportation planning. The Area Agency on Aging does things like investigate complaints against nursing homes.

The new $5 million budget projects a $7,500 surplus, compared to a $60,000 deficit in the current fiscal year's $5.7 million budget.

To avoid difficulties in the budget process in the future, the council voted to amend its bylaws to give more duties to its Budget and Finance Committee, which is to become the Finance and Audit Committee.

The new duties include reviewing the audit before sending it to the board for approval. With six months more to watch the budget evolve, Himbry said he hopes the changes in the committee will make the budget process go more smoothly in the future, rather than having to deal with tissues at the eleventh hour like it did this year.

Millions of dollars flow from the federal and state governments through the council and to the senior centers in the region, said Moolenaar. He said the changes in the committee will give the members five or six months for any new issues to sink in.

The council does things like submit grant applications on behalf of organizations within. "They write them, and we apply for them," said Moolenaar. He said the staff also tries to find long-term programs for the region that require multiple year funding, and they try to find something for each of the nine counties.