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Outlaw requests county finance subcommittee
Nash County Commissioner Wayne Outlaw wants commissioners to be more involved with the upcoming budget process in order to help find ways to cut costs to prevent a tax increase.

Outlaw brought the item before the board last Thursday, following a meeting to approve a resolution that finalized the funding for the county’s capital improvement program.

Outlaw cited the board’s decision in September 2009 to approve a capital improvement plan of $76.3 million, with $62.7 million of it being funded in the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

Outlaw said initially it was said the high school project could be funded without having an impact on the county’s finances. However, now, as additional information has been received, it is being said there could be a possible impact on the tax rate when it comes to funding the remaining capital projects. Those projects total $18.5 million and include projects for Nash Community College and the Court House, Sheriff’s Department additions.

“It concerns me and I’m sure it does the other commissioners, that we are potentially looking at an additional tax burden on the citizens of Nash County within the next two years when it was clear in previous meetings that we should not expect a tax increase for five to six years,” Outlaw said.

Outlaw recommended that a non-partisan committee of at least three commissioners be put together to work with County Manager Bob Murphy, Finance Director Lynne Anderson as well as department heads to complete a detailed line item review of all department budgets.

Outlaw said doing so would help him better understand the budget process as a new commissioner but would also allow commissioners to be more proactive in looking at opportunities for reductions, which could have an impact on future budgets and ultimately, the county’s tax rate.

“I have complete confidence in the county’s department heads, but as stated with the annual Nash County audit performed recently by Martin Starnes and Associates, the teams need to change up a little from time to time to allow “fresh eyes” to look at the details and the numbers,” Outlaw said.

Commissioner Fred Belfield said he liked the current way the budget was handled. Belfield said now, any commissioner can come and sit in on meetings and review the budget with department heads.

“I for one, want that opportunity to go through every one of them with the finance director, department heads and the county manager,” said Belfield.

Commissioner Chair Robbie Davis said he felt it would be better to wait on such a request so that he could see what the other commissioners thought. However, Davis said he agreed that the budget would take a lot of work to fund all the capital projects without a tax increase.

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