05/17/10 — Wayne County Commissioners to take up budget talks of their own Tuesday

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Wayne County Commissioners to take up budget talks of their own Tuesday

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 17, 2010 1:51 PM

Wayne County commissioners have had little to say about progress on the county's 2010-11 budget, other than instructing County Manager Lee Smith not to include a tax increase, but Tuesday morning they are expected to arrange a time for the public to talk about the proposal.

Smith has been told to present a budget that maintains taxes at the current tax rate, which is 76.4 cents per $100 worth of property.

Establishing the hearing for June 15 at 9:15 a.m. is part of the consent agenda for the board's Tuesday morning session in its meeting room on the fourth floor of the county courthouse annex. An agenda briefing will start at 8 a.m. and will be followed by the meeting at 9 a.m.

The hearing would be held at the same location

Smith has estimated that the budget could face a shortfall of between $2 million and $3 million as the result of declining revenues and other factors such as a change in the state retirement system that is expected to cost the county about a half million dollars.

Smith said earlier that the mandate might mean the county will have to look at all aspects of employee benefits, including insurance.

The current $157.6 million budget was frozen as soon as it was adopted -- all capital projects, all jobs and salaries. That is expected to remain unchanged.

However, Smith is hopeful the county will be able to maintain the current level of funding for the public schools, which currently is set at $18,887,994.

In other business Tuesday, a rezoning request by Billy Young to enable him to expand his Young's Auto Salvage will be taken up by commissioners again.

A public hearing on the petition to rezone 11.98 acres from Residential/Agriculture 20 to Heavy Industry was held at the board's May 4 session. It was the second hearing on the issue.

The first was held in September and at both hearings, neighbors of the auto salvage yard on U.S. 117 Alt. South at Dudley opposed the request. Commissioners took no action following the first hearing. A second hearing was held because of the amount of time that had lapsed since the first hearing.

Even if the rezoning is approved, Young will still have to petition the county for a special use permit for the expansion.

In another planning issue, commissioners will be asked to approve seven subdivision plats. Approvals have been recommended by the county Planning Board.

The Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan approved by the Planning Board last week also will go before commissioners for their approval.

The creation of the plan, and its review on a five-year cycle, was a condition of the county participating in the federal land buyout program following the historic flooding caused by Hurricane Floyd in 1999.

The revised plan includes the county, Mount Olive, Fremont, Pikeville, Eureka, Walnut Creek and Seven Springs. The plan is an analysis of natural hazards, most notably flooding, that affect the county.

Its goal is to establish ways to help the county and its residents to be better-prepared to deal with the disasters.

New recommendations include promoting more wide-spread public use of the county's Code Red emergency alert system; considering the installation of an alarm system that could be heard throughout a community in the event of a crisis; and examining the feasibility of creating a registry of special needs citizens to aid emergency workers during a disaster.

After its approval by commissioners, the plan will go to the state and FEMA for their approval. Once those approvals are received, the county and towns may then adopt the plan.

Also on the agenda:

* Sudie Davis, executive director of Communities in Schools of Wayne County, will update commissioners on the Teen Court program.

* Berkeley Mall management has asked commissioners to adopt a resolution granting permission for a fireworks display at the mall on July 3.