County's Proposed Budget: Tax Rate Stays the Same
Moore County’s proposed budget for 2011-12 holds the line on spending, retains the existing tax rate and funds the public schools at the 2010-11 level.
The budget presented to the Moore County Board of Commissioners Tuesday totals $125.3 million, including a general fund of $85 million, a decrease of almost 14 percent over the current year’s budget.
In the budget message, County Manager Cary McSwain noted that the state is responsible for funding school districts. By changing that priority, he said, the state “places additional burden on property taxes,” the primary source of revenue for local governments.
“It is an attempt by the state to avoid its funding responsibility and shift the blame for the schools’ shortfall on counties,” McSwain said.
McSwain said that the additional $3.1 million requested by the schools could not be funded without a 2.7-cent increase in the tax rate.
The manager pointed out that the legislature has not adopted a budget for the new fiscal year and there is still the possibility that school funding cuts will not be quite as severe as originally feared.
Although property tax and sales tax collections have remained “flat” in the past few years, McSwain said there are signs of a slow recovery as the economy gradually improves.
The commissioners will dig into the budget in more detail at a work session scheduled Thursday at 4 p.m. at the Agriculture Center in Carthage.
In other business Tuesday the board learned that it will be late June before the planning department will be prepared to make a recommendation on the Pine Forest rezoning request.
At the request of Planning Director Joey Raczkowski, the board agreed to call a special meeting to discuss the findings from the extended public hearing. The special meeting will be held May 24 at 5 p.m. and will be open to the public but will not be a public hearing.
The board voted 4-1 not to apply for a $160,018 grant to expand the program administered by Moore County Transportation Services. A public hearing was first held, but no one signed up to speak for or against the measure.
The application for Targeted Transit Assistance Program funding would have gone to the N.C. Department of Transportation Public Transportation Division. It is federal money channeled through the state.
Commissioner Jimmy Melton made the motion to turn down the grant and was joined by Chairman Nick Picerno and Commissioners Larry Caddell and Craig Kennedy in approving the motion.
Casting the dissenting vote, Commissioner Tim Lea said the grant would help meet the needs of the elderly and disabled. He suggested that the county try the program for a year, then turn it down in the future if it doesn’t work.
Tawanna M. Williams, MCTS manager, said the program has a waiting list with about 100 names.
However, opponents said they needed more information about the services already provided by MCTS and that it was time to send a message to the state and federal governments that funding for new and expanded services must be curbed.
This split vote led to a series of fractious discussions later in the meeting when Lea questioned the other four commissioners about their support for community development block grants that likewise use federal funds for a variety of programs. The result was additional split votes.
More details will appear in the print version of The Pilot.
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