Split Decision

Published 11:15 am Monday, July 3, 2017

JACKSON – The proposed budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year was just barely approved by the Northampton Board of Commissioners with a vote of 3-2. The Board voted on the budget after a public hearing was held on the afternoon of June 27.

Board Chairman Robert Carter along with Commissioners Fannie Greene and Chester Deloatch voted to approve the budget submitted by County Manager Kimberly Turner, while Commissioners Charles Tyner and Geneva Faulkner voted against.

Tyner’s vote against approval stemmed from concerns that the county hadn’t yet received their audit report back for the previous fiscal year and therefore they did not know how much money was in the county’s fund balance. Without those numbers, he said he couldn’t vote in favor of the proposed budget.

“It’s not fiscally sound,” he said in his remarks before the vote.

Commissioner Faulkner said she concurred with Tyner’s statement.

Tyner suggested that the Board should vote to operate on a contingency budget that would be the same as the 2016-17 FY budget until they could get the audit information.

In response, Turner stated that if the Board passed the proposed budget, they would be able to make amendments later once they receive the results of the audit.

Since there were no further questions and no citizens elected to speak during the public hearing, Commissioner Greene motioned to approve the proposed budget submitted by the county manager. With the vote of 3-2, the new budget will be put into effect.

The 2017-18 fiscal year operating budget will total $32,737,122. The ad valorem tax rate for real property will remain the same at $.92 (per $100 of value).

The General Fund portion of the budget totals $27,654,752.

This budget is a three percent decrease from the previous year’s budget, according to Turner.

The Public Safety department received the largest portion of funds with $8.9 million designated to them. Ambulance Service ($3.3 million), Sheriff ($2.3 million), and Jail ($1.3 million) received the most money amongst the Public Safety divisions to continue operating.

Public Education received a total of $4.3 million, with $3.5 million of that going to Current Expense and $695,000 being designated for Capital Outlay.

The Human Services department received $4.19 million specifically for the Health division and $2.6 million for Other Human Services.

$4.09 million is designated for General Government. The three divisions receiving the most of these funds are Buildings and Grounds ($918,287), Finance ($639,504), and Tax ($601,397).

The Economic/Physical Development department will receive $1.16 million.

Nearly half of the budget revenues for the county this fiscal year are expected to come from property tax, totaling $17.6 million. $2.1 million is expected from sales tax. Health revenues are expected to total $1.67 million.

A total of $1,196,747 is listed as the fund balance appropriation needed to balance the budget.

The new budget will be effective on July 1.