Budget deficit filled

Published 10:55 am Wednesday, April 18, 2012

GATESVILLE – The 309,800 shortfall discovered earlier this year in the county’s current budget is no more.

That was the word from Gates County Manager Toby Chappell at a meeting of the board of commissioners here earlier this month.

According to Gates County Finance Officer Sandy Pittman, the majority of the deficit was covered by projections of increased revenue. She told the commissioners that combining $34,000 in additional Medicaid Hold Harmless monies (above what was budgeted), another $65,000 projected by the state in that funding and an $184,000 increase for DSS State and Federal Administration, that makes up for $283,000 of the deficit. The remainder will be covered by not releasing funds earmarked for other smaller items in the current budget.

“We got through March and have finalized some numbers,” Pittman told the board, further presenting them with a spreadsheet detailing the sources of additional revenue that covered the deficit and a list of projects that will now move forward with those once encumbered funds.

The projects, delayed in February once the commissioners were informed of the deficit, that these extra funds will pay for include:

Courthouse roof – $130,000

Courthouse flooring – $11,000

Courtroom carpet and repairs – $20,000

DSS technology upgrade – $12,500

Various building repairs – $15,000

The list also included a $66,000 roof for the Gates County Community Center, bringing the total of the projects to $254,500.

Pittman said the Community Center roof was new to the project list.

“In our capital improvement plan we had planned to make this happen next year,” she told the board. “In looking at the revenues and what we have available this year, a lot of the cuts that we made back in January were for items that do not need to be released and don’t need to be funded this year.”

Pittman said those non-funded items included money that was set aside for Sunbury School, for sheriff’s department vehicles and for boarding inmates.

“We’d like to use some of that money and go ahead to put the roof on the Community Center this year which will allow us that much more room for next year in our budget to take care of some other things,” Pittman suggested.

Commission Vice Chair Henry Jordan asked County Manager Toby Chappell about a recent inspection of the Community Center roof.

“There’s two parts to the Community Center roof – the part that covers ViQuest and the offices, and the part over the actual gym,” Chappell said. “Edwards Roofing went out (to inspect the roof) and told us that the part over ViQuest needs to be replaced immediately. The part that covers the gym may have two to three years left on it.”

Chappell informed the board that $66,000 will replace both parts of the Community Center roof. He added the replacement would be the same type of roof currently on the facility.

Commissioner John Hora observed that the amount of money coming into the county that was under projected in the current year budget was $28,500 more than what was listed in the projects, including the Community Center roof.

“So this is just a reallocation of what was originally in the budget,” Hora asked.

“Yes, that’s correct,” Pittman replied. “Again, some of the cuts we identified a few months back are cuts that don’t need to be released. We can use those funds to cover other projects.”

When asked by Hora about how fast these projects can be done, Pittman said the wheels are already turning.

“We’re just waiting on your formal approval of this budget amendment,” she said.

Pittman said she constantly reviews the budget numbers each month and knows there will be some shortfalls between now and June 30….mentioning in particular the short cycle of double salaries for the DSS Director, in between the arrival of the new director, Geoffrey Marett, on April 19 and the departure of current director, Colleen Turner, on May 4.

Upon looking at the $283,000 in increased revenue projections in addition to sticking to the cuts that do not need to be released, Chappell said the entire $309,800 deficit is now completely addressed.

“There is no longer a budget deficit,” Chappell said.

The commissioners approved the budget amendment, giving the green light to the projects.

The $309,800 budget deficit was revealed in early February after the discovery an error in current tax values and delinquent taxes plus refunds being added together and multiplied by the county’s current tax rate of 64 cents; which produced an erroneous $5,953,253 quote and $309,800 deficit.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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