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Lamb presents Bertie budget

WINDSOR – Zee Lamb followed his orders.

On Monday morning, Lamb – Bertie’s County Manager – made his formal presentation of the proposed 2005-06 budget to the Board of Commissioners, a $19 million (excluding $4.36 million in transfer money) financial spreadsheet that does not require any property tax increase or added fees for county services.

Prior to putting the numbers down on paper, Lamb was asked by the Commissioners to leave the property tax rate and county fees the same as the current fiscal year.

The budget also proposes a 2.5 percent or $500, whichever is greater, cost of living increase for county employees.

&uot;Thank-you Zee and thanks as well to the county’s departmental heads for pulling off a budget without a tax increase, as per our request,&uot; Commissioners Chairman Rick Harrell said. &uot;We listened to the citizens of Bertie County…they are our bosses…and they told us to hold the line on spending and not pass along any tax increases. Our County Manager and our department heads were able to do just that and come up with a budget that will be beneficial to the citizens of Bertie County.&uot;

As asked, the tax rate remains at 78 cents, thanks largely in part to Bertie’s tax collection rate of 94.2 percent. That rate has been steadily climbing over the past four years.

In the area of revenues, Bertie expects to collect slightly over $7.6 million in property and motor vehicle taxes. Another $3.17 million will be generated through the collection of state sales taxes and 911 surcharges on telephone customers.

Other income will be directed into the county coffers from intergovernmental revenues ($4 million), service fees ($3 million) transfers ($4.36 million) and a $787,490 appropriation from the county’s fund balance.

Lamb noted the fund balance appropriation has decreased over each of the last five years. It stood at $863,333 for the current year’s budget and was nearly $1 million two years ago.

&uot;We are continuing our efforts year after year to rely less and less on our fund balance,&uot; Lamb stressed.

As far as proposed expenditures are concerned, Human Services will receive the lion’s share of the money – a projected $7 million. Nearly all of that ($6.1 million) is earmarked for Social Services, of which $2.2 million goes directly to pay the county’s mandated share of Medicaid.

Bertie Public Schools will receive $1.95 million plus another $150,000 in capital outlay funds. The entire education budget exceeds $2.5 million when adding in a combined $72,000 for Martin and Roanoke-Chowan community colleges, $125,000 in fines and forfeitures money that is earmarked for schools and nearly $360,000 in reserve capital outlay funds.

Other major expenditures include Public Safety ($3.66 million of which $1.38 million goes to the Sheriff’s Office), General Government ($2.16 million), Debt Service ($1.24 million) and Economic and Physical Development ($1.06 million).

The Sheriff’s budget includes funding for an additional Drug Enforcement Unit officer as well as purchasing four new vehicles.

Also included in the budget are funds for hiring a County Planner.

A public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. on Monday, June 20 in the Commissioners Room of the County Office Annex.

The budget is scheduled to take affect on July 1.