Spend a little….save a lot

Published 10:08 am Tuesday, March 6, 2012

JACKSON — The Northampton County Board of Commissioners will move forward with an analysis that will pinpoint the percentage of reimbursement on the Department of Social Services project.

On Monday, the commissioners approved a $9,900 agreement with Maximus Consulting Services, Inc. The company’s analysis will determine the optimum reimbursement on the construction of the new DSS facility.

Last week the commissioners agreed to file an application of intent with the Local Government Commission for the project. The board agreed at that time to table the Maximus agreement until Monday’s meeting.

The $7.46 million project, funded in part by a $6.96 million loan and a $500,000 grant from United States Department of Agriculture-Rural Development, relies heavily on an approximate 65 percent reimbursement from the federal government for the services provided by Northampton County DSS. In the past the federal government’s reimbursement has ranged from 60-65 percent.

The county’s annual debt payment on the new facility and how much taxpayer money would be used hinges on the reimbursement percentage.

At Monday’s meeting, County Manager Wayne Jenkins noted due to time constraints the $9,900 cost to the county could not be negotiated.

County Finance Officer Dot Vick strongly recommended the analysis in order to get a handle on what the county will actually get back.

“The application that we’re submitting to the Local Government (Commission), there’s a section in there where it asks how you’re going to fund this. Now, I have given it my best shot,” she said. “What we will do is take the loan amount ($6.9 million) and spread it out over 30 years and that’s going to be the debt payment.”

Vick said those with Maximus will take that calculation further utilizing several different documents and details.

“Right now, in this application, the best figures I can give you is we will have one and a half cent tax increase to make this payment along with the what percent we get back,” she said. “I think I went back and calculated 60 percent—that’s why I mentioned to Mr. Jenkins that we need someone who does it all the time to give us a handle on what we can actually get back.”

Vick said DSS reimbursements vary on a monthly basis.

Jenkins noted the cost for the analysis is in the budget.

Commission Vice Chair Virginia Spruill questioned if Vick was recommending the service.

“I think it would be well worth your money,” Vick responded.

Jenkins agreed.

“The higher the percentage the lower tax from the budget,” he said.

The measure passed without objection.