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HC budget approved

WINTON – The five-man governing body of Hertford County passed the budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2008-2009 here last week, with just one change from the message that County Manager Loria Williams presented to the commissioners in May.

That change is an increase in salary for sheriff’s deputies, in order to be more competitive with surrounding counties.

&uot;We’re doing this to meet the sheriff’s request for an increase in funding to provide pay raises for the deputies,&uot; Williams stated during the meeting.

The overall pay hike totals $46,828, with individual salary increases to be determined by the sheriff and the county manager.

The funds will come out of the fund balance appropriation in an effort to not cause any increase in taxes.

Also new this year is a longevity pay plan, in which all county employees will receive a bonus based on the number of years of service.

&uot;We hope to be able to continue to do this every year.

I learned from researching this that 75 counties statewide have longevity pay, including the surrounding counties of Bertie, Martin and Northampton,&uot; Williams stated later in a telephone interview.

Hertford County’s tax rate will remain at 91 cents per $100 of property valuation.

Williams said during her budget message presentation in May that it was a difficult budget to prepare and reported that to fund all agencies at their requested levels would have required a tax rate of $1.03.

The overall budget decreased just under two percent from the current year and totals $22,880.020. It is formed on an estimated valuation of $1,175,239,944 and a collection rate of 95 percent.

&uot;The proposed budget holds increases in expenditures within departments to a minimum, with most increases being related to ‘fixed’ costs such as salaries, utilities, higher fuel, etc.,&uot; Williams told the board in May.

The highlights of the approved budget include:

* Personnel – the budget supports 217 full-time employees and provides a three percent cost of living adjustment as well as longevity pay;

* Insurance – a more conscientious workforce in matters of safety resulted in a modest increase to General Liability and a reduction in Worker’s Compensation;

* Other Agencies – a three percent increase in funding for Hertford County Public Schools, Roanoke-Chowan Community College and the Public Health Authority;

* Expansion Items – the budget includes five vehicles for the office of the Hertford County Sheriff, a new Quick Response Vehicle for EMS, and one truck each for the Code Enforcement and Public Buildings departments. There is also a CTV/Door Lock system for the jail.

&uot;Growth in the tax base or the lack thereof will continue to restrict governmental operations as the demand for services becomes greater,&uot; Williams said. &uot;The next three years (prior to revaluation) will test our ability to continue to do more with less.

&uot;County office buildings, major mechanical systems and the maintenance thereof is reaching a critical juncture,&uot; she told the board. &uot;Hertford County has very little debt and has exercised the pay-as-you-go method; however, I will be seeking guidance from you in creating a viable capital improvements plan.&uot;

There will be a slight increase in solid waste fees due to the contractual obligations to the private landfill in Bertie County. Because of those changes, the budget provides for an increase in the household fee from $110 to $115, as well as the commercial tipping fee from $50 to $55 annually. There is no budgeted increase in the water fund.

No members of the public had any objection to the proposed budget during the public hearing set aside for that purpose.

Commissioner Curtis Freeman made a motion to approve the budget, and Commissioner John Pierce seconded.

The measure passed without objection.