06/05/06 — Duplin is talking about tax hike, manager

View Archive

Duplin is talking about tax hike, manager

By Turner Walston
Published in News on June 5, 2006 1:50 PM

Duplin County commissioners are continuing their search for a new county manager while they await public comment on a proposed budget that contains a 3.5-cent property tax increase.

The commissioners, who were to have met this morning in regular session, had last week narrowed the field of candidates for the county manager's job to five.

Assistant County Manager Judy Brown, who has been overseeing the manager's office since former County Manager Fred Eldridge resigned in May after three years on the job, said the commissioners had not indicated to her when they expect to make a decision about who will fill Eldridge's job.

Ms. Brown has said she plans to retire June 21.

A public hearing on the proposed budget, that would raise the tax rate to 80.5 cents per $100 worth of property, has been scheduled for Monday, June 19, at 7 p.m. The proposed budget would take $3.7 million from county reserves to help shore up spending and keep the tax increase as low as possible.

Duplin commissioners have not increased taxes since 2004.

While they wrestled with the budget, the commissioners considered several options to speed up the process and even revamp the manager's office.

At a recent meeting, Commissioner David Fussell proposed naming county Planning Director Mike Aldridge interim county manager to help accelerate the budget-planning.

Aldridge is a candidate for the county manager position.

Fussell said Aldridge's status as an interim manager would give him an unfair advantage in seeking the job but his motion was defeated by his fellow commissioners.

Commissioner L.S. Guy proposed eliminating the position of assistant county manager and creating an administrative assistant instead. That idea also fell by the wayside after Ms. Brown warned the commissioners of "micro-managing" the county manager's office and suggest they await the hiring of a new manager before making any changes.

She said a job listing for her position had not yet been posted.