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Northampton tax hike is official

JACKSON — Citizens here will have a nine cent increase on their taxes for this coming fiscal year.

Last week, the Northampton County Board of Commissioners approved the $23.68 million budget in a 4-1 vote, which includes a nine cent increase on ad valorem taxes, bringing the rate to 87 cents per $100 of value.

The nine-cent tax increase will comprise of six cents for general government increases (most due to increases in health insurance) and 2.3 cents for the third EMS crew for the Lake Gaston area due to two volunteers retiring. Also included in the nine cents is sixth-tenths of one cent for the appropriation to the Lake Gaston Weed Control Council for treatment to the lake.

County Manager Wayne Jenkins said the budget provides for a reduction of $62,499 or a 1.8 percent decrease in general county government; a $575,936 or a 9.9 percent increase in public safety; and a $121,903 or a 67.9 percent increase in environmental protection, which includes $116,000 for Lake Gaston weed control.

Northampton County Schools will receive $3.98 million. Of that amount $3.5 million is allotted for current expense, $345,000 is for capital outlay and $140,000 from fines and forfeitures. The budget also appropriates $100,000 to a special schools’ capital reserve account to address unforeseen emergencies.

An appropriation of $90,098 will be transferred from fund balance to balance the budget.

County officials had to work with a $2.2 million revenue short fall due to sales tax and tax collections being down.

Before the commissioners made their decision, a public hearing was held to take comments on the budget.

Several speakers addressed the fact that the county did not contribute to the J.W. Faison Senior Center.

Patricia Maddrey said the center provided many activities for her and other senior citizens in the county.

“I go there because it means a great deal to me as a senior citizen,” she said. “I urge you please put us back in your budget.”

Jenkins said the county has never funded the Faison Senior Center until two years ago when the board approved an allocation.

He also noted the center received a state certification as a center of excellence, therefore state funding increased.

The commissioners voted to approve the budget in a 4-1 vote. Commissioners Chester Deloatch objected to the motion.