06/05/07 — Duplin Commissioners continue to shift budget resources

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Duplin Commissioners continue to shift budget resources

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on June 5, 2007 1:46 PM

The Duplin County Board of Commissioners continued to make changes to the budget during its meeting Monday morning hours before local residents would get an opportunity to voice their opinions during a public hearing on the issue.

Most of the budget changes proposed by the commissioners were not expected to take more money from the county's fund balance. The commissioners had intended not to spend more than $1.85 million from the fund balance, but salary adjustments and wage increases increased the spending total to about $3.3 million.

After authorizing about $184,000 last week for the Duplin County Sheriff's Office to buy eight new vehicles, the commissioners agreed Monday for the department to reclassify some of its positions.

The office's narcotics division once had six officers, but one of the division's officers was reclassified to a detective position. The decision Monday would return the detective position back to the narcotics division.

The commissioners also approved reclassifying three clerical positions. Kristy Brinson, who oversees those three employees, told the commissioners that the reclassifications would not cost the county any additional funds. All reclassifications would be paid through the sheriff office's next fiscal allocation, she added.

The county's solid waste department was also granted the authority to provide its employees a pay increase with money that will not come from the county's fund balance or other changes to the budget.

Solid Waste director Bee Barnette said it was not fair that some departments received pay increases in recent weeks while his employees were only expected to get an across-the-board 2 percent increase.

County Manager Mike Aldridge agreed, but said there aren't many places left in the budget to get extra money.

"All of our employees are important and none are more important than others. We all depend on one another as employees to make it work," Aldridge said.

Barnette's solution was to take the pay increase money from solid waste's enterprise fund, which is used to operate the county's landfill. All of the commissioners except for Commission Chairman David Fussell approved the motion.

The commissioners also approved allowing Barnette to remove $1 million from the same enterprise fund to begin a separate account for any needed environmental or hazardous material cleanups at the landfill in the future.

In what little space there is left in the county budget for adjustments, Aldridge said he would find between $10,000 and $14,000 to allow the adult day care center in Wallace to keep operating for the next year. The day care center had requested the money, but the commissioners were not expected to make the allocation.

Aldridge and the commissioners are also expected to find about $6,300 either in the budget or the fund balance to fund pay increases for eight Social Services employees. The employees, who deal with Medicaid registration, fraud and computer administration, will receive small increases in the next year.