05/16/06 — Duplin no closer to budget, new work session set

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Duplin no closer to budget, new work session set

By Turner Walston
Published in News on May 16, 2006 1:49 PM

Duplin County commissioners are no closer to approving a new budget for the county -- with six weeks to go before its due date.

The commissioners met in a work session Monday but made no decisions regarding budget cuts or tax increases.

Former County Manager Fred Eldridge, who resigned earlier this month, had proposed a budget that contains a shortfall of nearly $1 million and uses more than $4 million from reserves to shore up spending.

Interim County Manager Judy Brown warned commissioners that time is growing short.

"You're getting close to the 12th hour," she said.

Ms. Brown herself will retire June 19, leaving the county without a manager.

Commissioner Larry Howard told commission chairman Zettie Williams some hard decisions would have to be made soon.

"Well, Madame Chairman, we've got two choices," Commissioner Larry Howard said. "We've either got to come up with some revenue, or we've got to come up with some cutting."

The commissioners scheduled another budget work session for 9 a.m. Monday.

Commissioner Reginald Wells said the board will have to come to some agreement over how to balance the county's budget. Currently, the county tax rate is 77 cents per each $100 worth of taxable property.

"Monday needs to be our deadline," Wells said.

"If you don't want to vote on a budget, don't be here Monday," Howard added.

In other business, the commissioners approved a bid from Global Construction of Kinston to add a concrete floor to Duplin County Events Center. The low bid was $413,525, bettering bids from Farrior and Sons, D.S. Simmons and T.A. Loving Co.

The contract was recommended to commissioners by consultant Van Lewis of McDavid Associates. Duplin County received $500,000 in state funds for the Events Center. Funds for the project will come from the state funds and sales tax refunds.

Commissioner David Fussell asked to table the request pending receipt of a business plan from Duplin County Events Center. Robb Wells, the center's executive director, said the window for completion of the concrete floor would be from June 5 through Aug. 10 because events are scheduled around those dates.

The resolution to adopt the budget from Global Construction passed 4-2, with Fussell and Mrs. Williams voting against it.