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Northampton Board approves budget

JACKSON – Northampton County will not see an increase in the base tax rate for the upcoming fiscal year.

The Northampton County Board of Commissioners held a public hearing Monday afternoon to discuss and approve the proposed FY 2006-2007 budget.

County Manager Wayne Jenkins and several Northampton County department heads were on hand for Jenkins’ presentation at a standing room only meeting.

In his presentation, Jenkins acknowledged that his office formulated the budget with the goal of maintaining the current Ad Valorem tax rate of 88 cents per $100 of value while ensuring the county would maintain fiscally responsibility.

Jenkins did make note that the new budget does not include a cost of living increase for the county’s employees.

The total general fund budget for the upcoming year amounted to $20,736,118, a four percent increase over last year.

Public education received a budgetary increase of six percent, equal to the increase for human services. The budget did not levy a tax for the Lake Gaston Watershed Improvement District.

The biggest expenditure for the county will again be areas in human services, which account for over $8 million in budgetary revenue. Human services include health care and social services.

An interesting line item in the human services expenditure list was the $58,000 designated for bio-terrorism preparation and response, indicating the county’s acknowledgement of security issues that are currently affecting the nation.

Public safety, which includes law enforcement as well as fire and rescue services, absorbed $4.4 million, while education accounted for an additional $4 million in expenditures.

While the new budget does not indicate a pay increase for county employees, the board did offer comments concerning the issue.

Commissioner James Hester offered this response to the absence of a pay raise, &uot;We hope our employees understand we will try to get them a cost of living increase as soon as possible. They do deserve it.&uot;

Commissioner James Boone said that Jenkins and his staff should be commended for all of their hard work.

Board Chairman Virginia Spruill said that Jenkins had done an outstanding job.

&uot;I would like to personally commend the County Manager as well as our Financial Officer Dot Vick for an excellent job,&uot; Spruill said. &uot;A lot of hard work obviously went into balancing this budget.&uot;

In other board news;

The Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution to request that the North Carolina General Assembly not authorize a North Carolina Toll Road for I-95 until a study of the economic impact the toll would have on tourism, economic development and local citizens is completed.

The board approved the Home and Community Care Block Grant. Debbie Warren of the Northampton County Office on Aging presented the 2006-2007 proposals for federal and state funding as well as the county’s obligatory local match expenditures. The total local match amount for the Northampton County local government totaled $22,291.