Bertie budget approved

Published 9:00 am Thursday, June 23, 2011

WINDSOR – The 2011-2012 budget for Bertie County is set.

During the regular meeting of the Bertie County Commissioners Monday night, the board officially adopted the budget after holding a public hearing and making slight changes to the financial forecast.

Before the public hearing opened, Commission Chairman L.C. Hoggard III reminded citizens the budget contained no tax increase for the coming year, holding the tax rate at 78 cents per $100 valuation.

Assistant Bertie County Manager Morris Rascoe said the budget was the one the commissioners had helped shape in their meetings.

“This budget takes into account all of the changes you made,” Rascoe said.

He said the budget provided three new positions – all under the direction of Bertie County Sheriff John Holley. The budget calls for the addition of one new deputy on January 1, 2012. At the same time a new employee will be hired for the 9-1-1 Center. The third position – also a 9-1-1 operator – will come on board in April of 2012.

Hoggard said he had met with the Sheriff and Bertie County Manager Zee Lamb to work out the addition of the deputy and the delay of the hiring of the operator and that everyone was in agreement on the budget.

During the public hearing, only one citizen spoke. John Davis of Merry Hill asked the board to discuss the use of the $100,000 budget for the Bertie County Economic Development Commission (EDC).

Commissioner Rick Harrell, who serves on the EDC board, said he wasn’t aware of any specific allocation for the money, but it was generally used to help recruit business to the county.

He said the EDC board’s role was to look at potential businesses locating in the county and the needs of those already in Bertie County.

Commissioner Norman M. Cherry Sr. said he had asked for a regular report from the EDC about what was occurring in the county, but his request had yet to be honored.

“I’ve not had that happen yet and I’m still asking for it,” he said.

Clerk to the Board Misty Deanes said Economic Development Director Steve Biggs had been helping head up the cleanup efforts from the April 16 tornadoes.

Cherry said he knew that was true, but wanted a report in the near future and Deanes said she was sure that would happen.

Davis said he wanted to see the board more “vocal and visionary” in their leadership, especially in the area of economic development.

Discussion ensued about working together as a community to help land new businesses for the county.

After the public hearing closed, the board heard from Chief Assistant District Attorney Assatta Buffaloe concerning help needed by the DA’s office to maintain a position cut by the state.

Buffaloe explained the state was cutting two positions and that it would leave District 6B Judicial District Attorney Valerie Asbell’s office with just one Victim Witness Advocate.

She cited the number of cases in the district and said it would be impossible for the DA’s office to continue its record of adjudicating cases quickly if they lost the position.

Buffaloe presented a plan from Asbell to have the three counties in the district – Bertie, Hertford and Northampton – to share the cost of position at $18,240.33 each.

Hoggard said it was a typical matter for the state to make cuts and the county left to pick them up to continue providing appropriate services for the citizens.

“We didn’t come to you until it was critical,” Buffaloe said.

Hoggard said he knew that was true and he understood the need for the position.

Cherry then offered a motion to provide the funding contingent upon a favorable decision from the commissioners in Hertford and Northampton counties. Commissioner J. Wallace Perry offered a second and it passed by a unanimous vote.

Later in the meeting, Cherry offered a motion to pass the budget ordinance with the addition of the money for the position in the DA’s office, which was to come from fund balance. Harrell offered a second and it passed without objection.