Supervisors argue about budget cut

Published 9:38 am Tuesday, March 8, 2016

District 1 Supervisor Rev. Jerry Wilson and several black community members confronted the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors Monday about recent budget cuts that affected his district.

“Well, I’ll throw out again that, since this board voted, I had to lay off four guys and not one of them was offered a job,” Wilson said.

Rev. Jerry L. Wilson

Rev. Jerry L. Wilson

Wilson said he blamed District 4 Supervisor Eddie Brown and District 3 Supervisor Nolan Williamson for his $159,945 cut, saying they are after the extra money and are the reason he had to lay off four men.

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Brown said that the men did not have to be laid off if Wilson would have cut his extravagant spending.

“We are half-way through the budget year,” Brown said. “You’re not even getting cut $160,000 this year, like you’ve been carrying on to all these people. You’re not even getting cut that much this year. You’ve even got the December and January and February settlements — as far as I know — going into your budget. The other day when I checked budget, you had more money than any of the rest of us, yet you’re hollering you had to lay four men off.

“You are the only supervisor that keeps two pick-ups at his house for his personal use,” Brown said. “You are the only supervisor that buys four-door dump trucks. As many men as you got — you got three four-door dump trucks for the men to use. How many men does it take to haul a load of gravel? How many? And you take all them lawn mowers, and you cut all the grass. You ain’t got but 105 miles of road. How does your gas bill end up being as high as the rest of us, and we’re running two hundred and something miles of road a piece. How does all that happen?”

Brown said the current budget sheet shows that Wilson currently has more money than any of the other supervisors.

Wilson’s response was that he was saving his money because he wanted to do something with it. He said that one of the county trucks at his house would not crank so he had to use the other to jump it off, and he needed the four-door dump trucks so that all of his men could ride together to survey a job.

Wilson was supported by several black community members who attended the meeting.

Lincoln County NAACP President Bernetta Character said by laying off the four men, the supervisors were driving them to ask for handouts from the government.

“I stand here today before you because we as a community are appalled at your mid-year budget cut,” Character said. “The statement was made that it’s a county board not an employment center. I ask this question, do you employ anyone out of your budget? Does your salary come out your budget? Yes, it’s public money. My question to you is, are you saying you finally got a conscious concerning the public fund. Do we the public need to sue the board for reimbursement of improper use of the budget? So are you telling us, the public, if you was cut this next minute, you wouldn’t be affected? The roof over you head, food in your family mouth, your life and health insurance wouldn’t matter. You would look at the situation in a different light, had it been you.

“We are not accepting the good old boy business as usual attitude and nothing is done,” Character said. “This is just modern-day racism. If the budget needed adjusting, why didn’t you foresee this when you planned the budget in October? We, the public, expect for the budget to be equally fair and for the budget to be planned for properly and in a timely manner. Don’t ever think we’re not concerned about what affects our community. We expect justice, so if it’s necessary we will contact the Justice Department to investigate the budget and the budget cut.”

The board made the decision to amend the budget, effective March 1, in January so that road and bridge funding reflected the number of miles in each supervisor district.

According to county documents, District 1 has 105 of the county’s 1,037.4 miles, or 10.1 percent. District 1’s percentage of the funds now reflects that, ensuring that the district receives $275,417 — a difference of $159,945, or 36.7 percent less than its previous budget. District 2, having 218.6 of the county’s 1,037.4 miles, will receive 21.1 percent. District 3, having 266.9 of the county’s 1,037.4 miles, will receive 25.7 percent. District 4 has 232.8 of the county’s 1,037.4 miles, or 22.4 percent, and District 5, with 214.1 of the county’s 1,037.4 miles, will receive 20.6 percent.

The original budget was approved in September 2015, effective Oct. 1, meaning supervisors received those allotted amounts for five months of the budget year.

Character said the other supervisors must do something for the four employees Wilson laid off, but Brown tried to explain that as of right now, Wilson still has the most money.

“I’ve been trying to explain it to you to a certain extent here,” Brown said. “We’re on the bottom of the budget. In other words, we haven’t got the money that he’s got right now. He’s got more money.

“Everybody gets equal money per mile of road in the district, each one is represented by equal money. Each taxpayer’s mile is worth the same,” Brown said.