10/27/12 — Daughtery says budget is a priority for the county

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Daughtery says budget is a priority for the county

By Steve Herring
Published in News on October 27, 2012 11:30 PM

The News-Argus posed three questions to candidates for the Wayne County Board of Commissioners. Here are the responses from Republican Joe Daughtery who is running in District 6. Incumbent Commissioner Jack Best of Goldsboro, a Democrat, did not participate.

Q: The budget is perhaps the biggest duty a commissioner has. What is your assessment of the current budget and tax rate? What are your budget goals and ideas?

A: My concern on the budget is, first of all, is the entire process. I think the process is antiquated. I want to change our budget process to where we have what I call, and others call, a zero-based budget. What I mean by that is I think that every year instead of taking the old budget, and simply adding to it, I want to go to where we basically have a blank page, and we take every program and justify its existence.

Government grows from taking a baseline and adding to the programs. What I want to do is to look at each program, each service that local government has and justify its continuation.

As far as the tax rate, I feel like what has happened is our commissioners have held the tax rate artificially high and with the excess funds have built up huge reserves.

I think as a citizen that citizens need to be informed of that, if that is what the overall goal is -- to keep tax rates up higher than necessary in order to build reserves for them to go have a specific goal to spend those reserves for.

Q: The county has been able to pay cash for recent facilities projects. What are the remaining facilities needs, including schools, and how would you pay for them?

A: An example of wasteful spending, in my opinion, is when you have a large cash reserve and you go out and spend $850,000 for the old Masons property on William Street. Just using common sense you can tell that the property is in a distressed area of town and is not worth $850,000.

So who is negotiating the purchases? I think that is a good example of where with these huge reserves there is no incentive to maximize the value for the taxpayer.

It is a good idea purchasing property where you are paying cash and not financing it and not encumber future tax receipts. It is a good idea from the standpoint if you are getting value for the dollars you are spending.

Schools have been one of my issues for several years. We have not allocated the proper resources for building schools.

The schools that have been built have been built using funds either from a state bond, or from borrowing money and using the future proceeds or proceeds from the lottery to pay for that. There has not been any line items allocated specifically, that I have found, for a continuation of, and a program of, building new schools from local resources. As a whole we do not have a program that is designed to replace our aging schools.

You could literally find a need of $100 million to $125 million that would be needed to build these new schools. Our county cannot afford a bond referendum of $125 million.

Q: What would be your goals and objectives as commissioner?

A: I really want to change the attitude of our board of commissioners. One of the mindsets that this board of commissioners has is that their duty is to support and promote the management of our county government.

The first duty of a commissioner is to represent his citizens, not government, not the management of government. If you will go back and view some of the commissioners' meeting and their statements, it is always about supporting the management of our county government. It is kind of like the tail is wagging the dog.

I am not in it for a popularity contest or to make friends with management in government. I am here to see that the management of the county is done in a thoughtful and professional manner that delivers the maximum services for the taxpayers' dollars.

I want to insist that we have transparent government. What I mean by that I want to see that all boards, all commissions that every meeting not only be public, but be televised and placed on the Internet.