Opposition to budget cut taken too far

Published 9:48 am Thursday, March 10, 2016

District 1 Supervisor Rev. Jerry Wilson, along with other black community members, are infuriated that four men will be laid off as a result of budget redistribution.

We empathize with them but feel Wilson could have taken a more professional approach to the matter, instead of yelling across the boardroom at the other supervisors at a meeting this week.

The Board of Supervisors decided to amend the budget in January to better divide the road funds based on how many road miles are located in each district. According to county documents, District 1 has 105 of the county’s 1,037.4 miles. District 1’s percentage of the funds will now reflect that, ensuring that district receives $275,417 — a decrease of $159,945.

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A decrease that large will certainly be difficult to adjust to, and there was likely a better way for the board to handle the cut. But District 4 Supervisor Eddie Brown seemed to think that if Wilson would have managed his spending better, the four men would not be laid 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?”

If Wilson currently has more funding on hand than other supervisors, as Brown said he does, what is he doing with it?

When asked, his responses contradict themselves. He first said he has no money. But when asked again, he said he is saving it because he wants to do something with it. Well, if that’s the case, why didn’t he continue to employ those four men?

Lincoln County NAACP President Bernetta Character, one of the community members who spoke on behalf of Wilson, said that by laying off the four men the supervisors were driving them to ask for handouts from the government.

“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.”

Despite Character’s statement about wanting an equally fair budget, what her and Wilson do not understand is, that is exactly what the budget redistribution will do. Every district will get equal money per mile of road. Every taxpayer’s mile will be worth the same. The budget cut was about equality among all people in the county.