06/03/13 — County to talk budget Tuesday

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County to talk budget Tuesday

By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 3, 2013 1:46 PM

Wayne County commissioners now have a copy of the proposed $161 million 2013-14 budget, but the document, which was released Friday afternoon, has no indication of what county residents will pay in taxes next year.

Even commissioners don't know what the proposed tax rate is, said Barbara Arntsen, Wayne County public information officer. Ms. Arntsen said it would be included in County Manager Lee Smith's budget message.

The budget proposal, and Smith's budget message, will officially be presented to the board when it meets Tuesday.

The $161 million is slightly more than the $159 million that was originally budgeted for 2012-13. However, since the July 1 start of the current budget year, amendments have increased it to what is anticipated to be a final total of just over $181 million.

The current tax rate is 70.25 cents per $100 worth of property.

During a May 24 interview, board Chairman Steve Keen said the county commissioners had "no idea" at that time what the tax rate would be.

Keen also said that following the November election, the board's consensus was that voters wanted to pay less taxes and wanted to cut spending.

Although agreeing to discuss the budget in a 30-minute session last week, Keen has rejected requests to further discuss the details of the spending plan or to answer questions about the decisions contained therein.

"As far as interviews, probably not because (the series of budget meetings) is the sequence and protocol that we are going to have," he said. "You will be getting all of the information that you will need sitting in the meetings."

According to the proposal, county departments had made budget requests totaling $179.9 million.

That includes $6.43 million the Wayne County Public Schools had requested for capital outlay. However, the draft budget includes only $2 million for small works projects.

Tuesday's meeting will begin at 3 p.m. with an agenda briefing, followed by the regular session at 4 p.m. Both will be held in the commissioners' meeting room on the fourth floor of the county courthouse annex.

Public comments will be heard starting at 6 p.m.

Commissioners have scheduled budget meetings for Thursday, June 6, and Tuesday, June 11, from 8 a.m. until noon both days. A public hearing on the budget is planned for June 18 at 9:30 a.m.

The board Tuesday will be asked to schedule a special session for June 25 at 9 a.m. to consider adopting the budget.

All of the meetings will be held in the commissioners' meeting room.

In other business Tuesday, Wayne County Purchasing Manager Noelle Woods will talk about the design/build concept and process.

Commissioners want to utilize the design/build approach to construct the new Steele Memorial Library in Mount Olive.

In design/build, an architect/engineer teams with a contractor to design and build a project. The project owner, in this case the county, has a more active role in the process.

Not all counties in the state are authorized to use design/build. However, local legislation passed several years ago allows Wayne County to use the process.

At the board's previous session County Attorney Borden Parker said that legislation has passed one General Assembly chamber to allow its use statewide. That bill sets out all of the specifics that are not in the county's local bill, he said.

Parker said he had given a copy of the specifications to Ms. Woods.

Also on the agenda:

* Veterans and Patriots Coalition President Bill Graham and Secretary Al Greene are scheduled to present a certificate of appreciation to commissioners for their support and county contribution to The Wall that Heals.

* Wayne County ABC Board Business Manager Mike Myrick will present the 2013-2014 Wayne County ABC Board budget and travel policy, unchanged from the current fiscal year, for consideration of approval.

* The board will be asked to allow the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp. to use the Wayne County Courthouse grounds on Sept. 20 for its annual dinner.