06/17/11 — Duplin officials vote to hold off on any tax hike

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Duplin officials vote to hold off on any tax hike

By Aaron Moore
Published in News on June 17, 2011 1:46 PM

KENANSVILLE -- Following more pleas from the public at a Monday work session, Duplin County commissioners voted not to raise taxes despite an estimated $4 million budget deficit for 2011-12.

County Manager Mike Aldridge said Wednesday the commissioners were unwilling to tax citizens further to pay for basic services.

"The board is reluctant to raise taxes on the backs of the public," he said.

They also increased hours at the EMS station in Kenansville from daytime-only service to 24-hour service, funding the extra operations from the county's fund balance.

The decision came following Kenansville residents' concerns that EMS paramedics would not be able to respond in time if they had emergencies at night.

Although commissioners said they couldn't keep taking money from the shrinking fund balance, Aldridge said they would not raise taxes or make extra cuts to offset the additional EMS costs.

Instead they will wait until next year.

"We are bracing for the reality that next year a tax increase will be necessary," Aldridge said.

Aldridge told the public at a hearing earlier this month that tax hikes would be unavoidable in the 2012-13 budget.

The commissioners also voted to add $250,000 in capital contributions to the Duplin County Board of Education in the 2012-13 budget.

Aldridge described the move as a "gesture of goodwill" to show the Board of Education that the county will stay true to its promise to fund the schools 40 percent of budgeted tax collection each year to offset a $4.8 million lawsuit the board filed in 2008.

The commissioners will meet again Monday to adopt the final 2011-12 budget.