Nash Board may vote on county budget June 3

Amanda Clark, Graphic Staff Writer

Nash County Commissioners will consider approval of the 2013-2014 Fiscal Year budget on Monday, June 3 but at least two commissioners have said they cannot support a budget that shows an increase.

The $88.4 million proposed budget is a 3.5 percent increase from the current year’s adopted budget and .7 percent increase from this year’s revised budget.

 Nash County plans to take advantage of an increase in property tax and sales tax revenues by proposing a two percent pay plan adjustment for employees. That amounts to around $500,000 in the county’s budget. The county’s pay plan has not changed since 2008. Nash County Manager Bob Murphy told commissioners at a budget work session that Nash County was falling behind in salaries so he felt a pay play adjustment was a priority.

Another item that is attributed to the increase in the budget is the addition of new positions and unfreezing some positions to address increases in workloads.

The budget does not include any increases in taxes. However, a proposed $20 fee to use convenience centers is being proposed for municipal residents. Currently, municipal residents do not pay a fee for county convenience centers and are not supposed to use them. However, the new fee will allow municipal residents the ability to use any of the convenience centers.

Water rates will also see an increase in the proposed budget.

Commissioner Robbie Davis said at both of the budget work sessions that he would not support a budget that was larger than the current years.

Davis said he felt like the county’s revenue increases would not be long lasting. Davis said he felt the county would end up losing revenue after the next revaluation in a few years.

“I feel like we are funding that increase on credit card,” Davis said. “That day’s going to come when we can’t make a payment on it.”

At the last budget work session, held on May 20, Davis again said he would not support an increase.

“I will not be able to support any budget that any overall increase from last year’s budget,” he said.

Davis said he did agree something should be done for employees but felt it could be done without becoming a recurring expense.

Commissioner Wayne Outlaw agreed and said he, too, could not support the budget as proposed with the increase. Around 1.2 percent of the 3.5 percent increase is in reoccurring expenses.

“I think having a reoccurring expense would not be the way to (fund salary increases),” Outlaw said.

Chairman Fred Belfield and Commissioner Mary Wells disagreed.

Belfield said at the first budget meeting on May 13 that state and federal budgets have always increased budgets each year but Nash has always operated conservatively.

“We have operated each year with a very hole in the line budget,” Belfield said. “We’ve had a very conservative budget even since before I’ve been on the board. We’ve never had a bloated budget.”

“Our situation is different,” Belfield added.

Wells said she felt the employees deserved something.

“I think we are saying to our employees, we really appreciate you but we can’t give you anything,” Wells said.

Wells said the employee salary increases were really only a less than one percent increase, due to an increase in health insurance costs for employees.

“I think our employees deserve it and this is the year we can give it to them,” Wells said.

No additional budget work sessions have been scheduled. A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for Monday, June 3 at 10 a.m. Following the public hearing, commissioners may vote on the budget. The budget has to be approved by June 30.