Crunch time!

Published 9:51 am Tuesday, April 5, 2016

WINTON – April signals more than the arrival of spring.

On Monday, Hertford County Manager Loria Williams began the arduous task of launching her annual effort to script an operating budget for the new fiscal year. Although that year doesn’t arrive until July 1, Williams said there’s no time like the present to start putting together the numbers that will eventually comprise the county’s 2016-17 budget.

“The month of April is always busy as it relates to our budget process,” Williams told the Commissioners on Monday morning as they gathered for their regularly scheduled meeting. “All information has been sent to the outside agencies we help fund in the budget – the (Hertford County) school system, the community college, library, etc. And our (county) department heads have keyed in their budget numbers.”

Williams told the Commissioners that the appraised property values, used to assess taxes, had grown very little over the $1.58 billion used to build the current year budget.

“So, we will be working diligently to present to you for approval in June only what is needed to continue the same level and quality of services we now provide to our citizens,” Williams stressed.

She reminded the Commissioners that the 2016-17 budget will, for the first time, encompass a full year of operational costs for the new courthouse and county government center, both of which officially opened in June of last year. And, even though it has yet to open, the new budget must also cover the operations of the E-911 Center (expected to be in use by late June).

“There will be some offsetting revenue coming from Ahoskie and Murfreesboro to aid us in operating the new E-911 Center, but once it opens the county becomes responsible for all those services, to include the salaries of 12 full-time employees,” Williams noted.

“We have to work hard to make all this fit into the budget,” she added. “I usually make my presentation for a recommended budget by the first meeting in May, but with so much going on it may have to be delayed until your (Commissioners) second meeting that month. There’s a lot for us to consider this year as we move forward in adopting a budget no later than June 30.”

Later in Monday’s meeting, the Commissioners moved forward on another budgetary item by finalizing the documents that will allow the county borrow $3 million from BB&T Bank to finance the renovation of Hertford County Office Building #1 on King Street in Winton.

Once those documents are approved by the North Carolina Institute of Government, the debt service payments will have to be added to the 2016-17 budget.

“We’re looking at a $300,000 payment for the first year,” Williams said. “Even though we can recover roughly 50 percent of those annual payments through the federal government due to the renovations benefitting and expanding our Department of Social Services office, it’s still new debt on our books that must be accounted for in the new budget and ensuing year budgets.”

Hertford County’s current fiscal year operating budget is $25,925,114. That amount is roughly $80,000 higher than what Williams originally proposed back in May of 2015 due to a few late additions to the budget.

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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