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Half-million more

JACKSON – Northampton County local government will reach deep into its existing General Fund Balance to help meet the financial needs of the county’s public school system.

Additionally, a measure was approved that would allow the voters of Northampton County to decide the fate of a supplemental tax that will cover the costs of building a combined middle school/high school that will be centrally located in the county.

On the heels of a four-hour meeting here yesterday (Monday), the Commissioners presented a plan that awards Northampton County Public Schools an additional $550,000 in the Fiscal Year 2015-16 budget.

According to County Manager Kimberly Turner, the Northampton County Board of Education agreed to the Commissioners’ plan for additional funding, thus resolving the budget dispute between the two boards that formally began July 7 with a mediation session in Jackson. There, Northampton Schools Superintendent Dr. Monica Smith-Woofter said the system needed an additional $2.5 million.

Upon approving the new FY 2015-16 budget late last month, the Commissioners agreed to a financial package that included $3.3 million in current expense funding and $345,000 in capital outlay for the school system.

Those two amounts will increase following Monday’s decision.

According to documents provided late Monday to the News-Herald, the Commissioners will allocate an additional $275,511.12 for the Board of Education’s current expense fund, bringing that total appropriation to $3,575,511.12. In the capital outlay budget, the Commissioners agreed to add $274,488.88 thus resulting in a new budget totaling $619,488.88.

It is noted in the documents that the two additional appropriations to the school system are contingent upon the county’s FY 2014-15 audit verifying revenues over expenditures in the amount of at least $1.2 million. In the event of the audit revealing a lower amount, the Commissioners’ obligation to appropriate additional funds to the school system shall be reduced by the percentage that the audit was under the $1.2 million threshold.

It was also agreed by both parties that the additional appropriations apply only to FY 2015-16.

As for the supplemental tax issue, both boards agreed to work together to develop and support a plan to construct a new school. That plan includes developing construction options that will allow both boards to mutually agree to the amount of funding to be sought.

A voter referendum will be scheduled for May 2016 to decide the fate of the supplemental tax, the proceeds of which will be earmarked totally for the new school. Should that measure fail, both boards will work together to address the Board of Education’s consolidation needs for existing facilities, taking into account the county’s revenue.

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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