06/18/12 — County budget public hearing Tuesday

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County budget public hearing Tuesday

By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 18, 2012 1:46 PM

Wayne County residents will have the opportunity during a Tuesday morning public hearing to comment on or ask questions about the county's $159 million budget proposal that maintains the current tax rate of 70.25 cents per $100 worth of property and does not contain any fee increases.

The hearing before Wayne County commissioners will start at 9:15 a.m. in the commissioners' meeting room on the fourth floor of the county courthouse annex. The board is not expected to act on the budget Tuesday, but will follow up with budget workshops scheduled for June 21 and 25.

The workshops are open to the public and will begin at 12:30 p.m. in the commissioners' meeting room. The budget has to be adopted prior to July 1 and could be approved during one of the work sessions.

Copies of the budget proposal are available for public review at the office of Wayne County Manager Lee Smith and at the Wayne County Public Library on East Ash Street. A copy of the budget also is available on the county website, www.waynegov.com, under headlines on the left-hand side of the page.

Smith earlier said little has changed from the current budget even though the draft reflects an approximately $1 million increase because of the Qualified School Bond payments for the Norwayne and Eastern Wayne middle school construction projects. State lottery proceeds will be used to pay the principal and local funds for the interest. However, the federal government will reimburse the interest payment on an annual basis.

Under the proposal the Wayne County Public Schools would receive an additional $250,000 in current expense funding to help offset anticipated losses in the state's Low-Wealth allocation. It also recommends the continued funding of the Wee Wings program.

Wayne Community College would receive an additional $435,000 in current and capital expenses.

The draft budget also includes:

* More than $1 million in repairs to the jail which does not include a new roof that officials say is needed

* $2.7 million for Services on Aging renovations/purchase, under construction

* $3.85 million, Steele Memorial Library in Mount Olive, design completed, bidding is the next step

* $400,000, Wayne Executive Jetport fuel farm, targeted for 2013.

Smith has recommended that commissioners not adopt a long-term capital improvement plan until they develop a priority list of all capital projects for the county.

The budget proposal continues the county's hiring freeze, except for some shift positions and recommends hiring two more sheriff's deputies and buying two patrol cars. The additions would be paid for within the Sheriff's Office's existing budget.

There is no salary increase for county employees. However, Smith told commissioners at their June 5 session that he hopes the county will be able to trim budget costs would allow commissioners the opportunity to approve a 2.5 percent pay increase for employees after the first of the year.

In other business Tuesday, the board will hold a second public hearing following the one on the budget. It will be on a proposed amendment to the county zoning ordinance that would allow day care centers as a permitted use in community shopping zones. The county Planning Board has recommended approval.

The amendment was proposed after the county received a request from Danny Bryant who wants to open a day care center at 1511 Old Mount Olive Highway, Dudley. The property is zoned community shopping where day care centers are not a permitted use.

Amending the ordinance would not be specific to the site, but would allow day care centers in any area zoned as community shopping.

Mark Sutherland, executive director of the Military Growth Task Force, will update commissioners on EnvisionEast-2050 event to be held Oct. 24 at the Jones County Civic Center in Trenton.