05/30/05 — Public hearing on Duplin budget set for June 6

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Public hearing on Duplin budget set for June 6

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on May 30, 2005 1:45 PM

KENANSVILLE -- A public hearing on the proposed Duplin County budget will be held Monday, June 6, at 6 p.m. in the community room in the back of the Social Services Building.

Prior to that, residents can view the proposed budget at the county Administration Building on Seminary Road.

The county manager has presented a few ideas to county commissioners in budget workshops of how to pay bills and avoid raising taxes, Assistant County Manager Judy Brown said.

She said the county can expect to receive about $39 million in property taxes next year, but spending will come to a projected $43.8 million. That will leave the county $4 million short.

"We have heard all the counties are in a budget crunch this year," she said.

She said Duplin has seen about a $196,000 increase in workers compensation premiums. The insurance premium for county employees has gone up about $146,000. Medicaid has increased $300,000.

But the county is "pretty much status quo on tax values," she said. The county is losing property values in some places and gaining in others. But as a whole, she said, the county has seen a 2.26 percent increase in property values.

Some ideas that County Manager Fred Eldridge has presented to commissioners in the workshops are to go to a four-day work week or to ask county employees to pick up about 12 percent of the hospitalization insurance premiums. The county pays all of it now for an individual, Ms. Brown said, and commissioners are reluctant to consider paying less than 100 percent of the premiums for the employees.

The four-day work week could free up another $2 million, according to the county manager's projections. Reduced hours would be staggered for everybody except those who work in public safety.

The county could pull $2.7 million from the fund balance and add that to the money saved by going to a four-day work week and the money saved by employees helping with the insurance premiums and end up with a little extra. It looks like there would be about $122,000 left.