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HC budget passes with opposition

WINTON – It’s official with just one complaint.

Despite one dissenting vote, members of the Hertford County Board of Commissioners approved the 2005-06 county budget here Monday night following a public hearing.

No one in the audience spoke in favor or against the $17.8 million general fund budget. However, Commissioner Johnnie Ray Farmer expressed his concern over the lack of additional funding for Roanoke-Chowan Community College.

&uot;I make this appeal every year at this time and every year the budget is passed without us appropriating additional money for the community college,&uot; Farmer said. &uot;We gave our public schools a nine percent increase for the upcoming fiscal year, but we failed to give any increase to the community college.&uot;

The budget numbers proved Farmer’s point as the county’s public schools will receive $3.52 million, compared to $3.22 million for the current budget year. On the other hand, RCCC is earmarked to receive $616,737 during 2005-06. That is the exact amount in the current year budget.

When the vote was taken, Commissioners Dupont Davis, Curtis Freeman, John Pierce and Howard Hunter III were in favor of the new budget. Farmer voted no.

&uot;Don’t get the wrong impression over my no vote,&uot; said Farmer following the meeting. &uot;Overall, the 2005-06 budget is structured in a sound financial manner. My concern, and my subsequent no vote was linked to the fact there was no additional money budgeted for the community college. Other than that, the rest of the budget meets my approval.&uot;

Davis stressed that the budget has his full support.

&uot;Our County Manager (John Ed Whitehurst) worked very diligently to prepare this budget without having to raise taxes,&uot; Davis said. &uot;We thank him for that effort. We asked him to prepare a budget without a tax increase and he followed our wishes.&uot;

Over one-half of the new budget revenues will come from ad valorem taxes ($9.43 million). Sales and use taxes ($4.55 million), sales and services ($1.20 million) and vehicle taxes ($1.16 million) are the other major revenue-producing items in the budget.

On the expenditures side, operating transfers into several accounts is the highest source of payouts, budgeted at $4.59 million. The majority of that transfer funding goes to Social Services ($3.6 million, of which $2.2 million is earmarked for Medicaid).

Education ($4.14 million, including $972,000 in capital outlay funds), the Hertford County Jail ($1.4 million), the Sheriff’s Office ($1.29 million) and Emergency Services/Hertford County Ambulance Service (a combined $842,693) were listed among the next largest expenses.

The new budget only used $170,188 in appropriated fund balance money.