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Halifax County Supervisors Set To Approve Budget

Halifax County Board of Supervisors is expected to approve the proposed $89,971,290 2011 county budget tonight when it meets at 6:30 p.m. in the Mary Bethune Office Complex in Halifax.

The draft budget includes a real estate tax rate of 43 cents per $100 value, personal property tax rate of $3.60 per $100 value and machinery and tools tax rate of $1.26 per $100 value.

It also calls for using $850,000 from Halifax County’s $7 million reserve fund in order to balance the books.

State budget cuts have sliced large chunks from the county constitutional offices, and Finance Committee Chairman Doug Bowman this week clarified the county’s position relative to the constitutional offices and their state budget cuts.

According to Bowman, the state cut the sheriff’s department by $145,000 with the department absorbing $70,000 of that cut, and the county funding $75,000.

“No local county funds were cut,” Bowman said.

Of the sheriff’s department $2.5 million budget, the county funds approximately $900,000, he pointed out.

The commonwealth’s attorney/drug prosecutor budget was cut $45,000 by the state, with the office absorbing $21,000 and the county agreeing to fund $24,000.

“No local funds were cut, and no positions will be eliminated,” Bowman said.

Of the approximately combined $750,000 budget, the county provides about $210,000, according to Bowman.

The state cut to the treasurer’s office totals $33,000 that will be absorbed by the office through the elimination of one full-time position, the finance chairman explained.

“No local funds were cut,” he said adding, the county funds $300,000 of the approximate $420,000 budget.

The state cut $28,000 from the commissioner of revenue and assessment office, and the county cut an additional $20,000 for a total budget reduction of $48,000 which the office will absorb, Bowman explained.

Of the combined budget of $585,000, the county funds $450,000, including real estate assessment.

The clerk of court’s office received a $10,000 state cut which the office is absorbing, according to the finance chairman.

Of a budget totaling $465,000, Bowman said the county funds $169,000.

“Considerable dialogue among county staff, county board and the constitutional officers has occurred to manage through the challenging state budget cuts on these offices. These offices, though independent, are closely linked to county government,” Bowman said.

“The result of these and other communications with public entities supported with county resources is a budgeted draw on county general fund of about $850,000 for the FY 2011 budget,” he added.

This deficit amount is similar to the current budget year ending this month and makes for the third consecutive year of a shift in state funding to localities.

The public school system was dealt its own state cut with county funding remaining level for 2011, Bowman said.

No county tax rates were increased for FY 2011, the finance chairman said, warning, “but this combination cannot continue.”

In other action tonight, supervisors are expected to hold three public hearings.

The first hearing will be on a proposed $147,750 United States Department of Agriculture grant for public safety equipment.

The second hearing is on an amendment to the agricultural forestall district ordinance that changes the application deadline to September 1 of each year.

The third public hearing is on a conditional use permit application by William Larry Miller to operate a meeting and conference center on a five acre portion of Cloverdale Quarters Farm on the north side of Philpot Road 0.75 of a mile east of its intersection with Hackberry Road at 1130 Cloverdale Trail in Sutherlin in ED#6.

In other action tonight, supervisors are expected to take the following actions:

• Hear a report from Fair Coordinator Donnell Corelle;

• Receive information from County Administrator George Nester on amending the bylaws of the Economic Development Commission; consider plan 2 VRS retirement for employees hired are July 1; hear a report on Verizon’s application with the SCC; and learn more about an energy audit for county buildings.

• Set a date to hold a public hearing on a conditional use permit by Charlie H. Hightower to establish a water bottling and distribution facility on a 6.5 acre parcel on Dixon Trail in ED#3.

Under unfinished business, board members are expected to make appointments to fill vacancies on the following boards and commissions:
• Improvement Council – Fill vacancies in ED#1 and ED#5 for terms that expire Jan. 31, 2011.

• Southside Regional Juvenile Group Home Commission – two vacancies with one at-large appointment that became effective Jan. 1 of this year with the resignation of Maurice Riddle; and one vacancy for a seat held by the late R. E. “Dickie” Abbott;

• Economic Development Council – Make eight at-large appointments to two year terms that expired Nov. 30 of last year currently held by Lowell Ferguson, ED#1; Jeff Francisco ED#2; Donald Muse ED#3; Ted Bennett ED#4; Hill Felton Jr., ED#5; Ed Talbott ED#6; Weldon Shelton ED#7; and Aubrey Houghton, ED#8.

• Community Colleges Advisory Board – Glenn C. Ratliff (DCC – four year term expires June 30).

• Regional Library Board – Jewel Giles who is eligible to serve one more term (four year term expires June 30).

• Social Services Board – Susan McLamb who is eligible to serve one more term (four year term expiires June 30).

• Southside Regional Public Service Authority – Tom West and Alternate J. T. Davis (four year terms expire June 30).

• Workforce Investment Board – Nancy Pool (business representative) and William Fitzgerald, both terms expire June 30 and both are eligible for nomination for reappointment.

At the conclusion of tonight’s meeting, supervisors are scheduled to go behind closed doors in an executive session to discuss the acquisition or disposition of property; a prospective business or industry or expansion of an existing business; investment of public funds; consult with legal council; and discuss award of a public contract involving public funds.