Board Trims More From Tax Rate
The Moore County Board of Commissioners has cut the tax rate by another 0.4 cent to 1.4 cents per $100 property valuation and restored education funding to the requested levels.
At a special Monday night meeting, the commissioners voted 3-2 to adopt a budget amended by the county manager to conform with pleas from the public.
In other business Monday, the board voted, again 3-2, to move forward with plans to expand the detention center onto the 21-acre tract adjacent to the existing jail.
That vote came after hearing protests from Carthage residents who don't want a large detention facility built in the historic town center. Speakers argued that the large facility, to house as many as 260 inmates, would present security problems, would lower property values and hurt the town's image. Opponents presented a petition with 263 names, a figure that climbed to 270 when the board took a break later in the meeting.
Speakers were heard during the public comment period held before the board tackled the meeting agenda.
Commissioner Jimmy Melton made the motion to adopt the budget amended in recent weeks by County Manager Cary McSwain.
His motion calls for funding the public schools at $24,935,195, the same level of funding for this year and funding Sandhills Community College at $4,135,541, also at the same level of this year. Both budgets are for current expense. The $50,000 for capital outlay requested by the college was not funded.
Melton's motion, which had a second by Chairman Nick Picerno, also provides $50,000 for long-range planning, which must include a master water and sewer solution, as well as coordination with future school construction needs. It restores employee longevity pay at the 75-percent level of the current year, and restores funding for four part-time animal shelter attendants.
The original budget called for a one-cent tax rate cut, but the amended version that passed adds another 0.4 cent, making the total reduction 1.4 cents.
To balance the budget, the motion increases the self-insurance transfer to the General Fund to $450,000 and adjusts the capital reserve fund transfer to the balance, about $3.2 million.
Commissioner Tim Lea made an amendment to the original motion, but it failed on a 3-2 vote with Commissioner Cindy Morgan voting for Lea's amendment and Commissioner Larry Caddell joining Melton and Picerno in supporting the original motion. Lea's budget amendment differed from the other in several aspects and would have lowered the tax rate by a total of 2.5 cents on the $100 property valuation.
Action on location of the detention center followed a similar pattern with Caddell making a motion to continue with plans to use the Grimm property in downtown Carthage for the jail expansion. This time it was Morgan who offered the amendment, in which she cited a series of key points to support her proposal. The vote followed the same trend as that of the budget vote.
An earlier motion by Lea also failed. He proposed that the board table action until it could secure legal counsel on an issue raised by one of the speakers during the public comment period. The motion was defeated 3-2.
The legal issue raised by Bert Patrick called attention to a law restricting prison facilities from areas within 300 feet of places where children gather. She mentioned the proximity of the proposed detention center to the athletic field at Carthage Elementary School, the Moore County Public Library and the Carthage Baptist Church.
More details will appear in the print version of The Pilot.
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