06/08/08 — Counties' commissions plan budget meetings

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Counties' commissions plan budget meetings

By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 8, 2008 2:06 AM

Wayne and Duplin county commissioners will hold budget work sessions next week. The meetings are open to the public.

Neither county is proposing any increase in its respective tax rates. The budgets must be approved by the end of June.

Wayne commissioners will meet Thursday at noon in their board room at the courthouse. A public hearing on the budget proposal will be Tuesday, June 17, at 9 a.m. An additional work session, if needed, could be held prior to budget approval.

Wayne County Manager Lee Smith presented the $162,469,714 budget to commissioners this past Tuesday.

The budget includes a $15 technology fee on building permits; a $7 increase in the solid waste tipping fee; and a $20 increase in the fee charged county residents who do not have curbside garbage service.

Duplin commissioners will meet Monday at 9 a.m. in the board room in the county administrative office in Kenansville.

A contentious hearing on the Duplin budget was held June 2 leading county Manager Mike Aldridge to recommend this Monday's session on the county's $48 million general fund budget.

The public wasn't the first to express displeasure with the budget. Commissioners scraped implementation of a pay plan and some funding for the public schools prior to the hearing.

By a 4-2 vote, the board replaced the pay plan with a 4 percent across-the-board salary increase for county employees.

The plan, which had been included in the budget, was not on the agenda. It was added at the request of Commissioner Cary Turner.

Commissioners said they were being asked to vote on a plan that they had not had adequate time to study. They did not rule out revisiting the plan at a later date.

In another 4-2 vote, the board cut out $295,984 in restricted-use funds earmarked for the public schools. Commissioners said they wanted to remove the earmark until such time as they could provide the full $750,000 that had been requested.

During the hearing, commissioners heard pleas to restore funding for fire departments, parks and recreation and public schools. They also heard a number of complaints that the county's workforce is bloated and that taxes are too high.