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County budget appears fair as is

In an unexpected move, the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors decided to do very little budget trimming, and will instead grant just about every budget request that was brought before them. At least that was the plan at Monday’s meeting.

Supervisors had previously questioned several funding requests with the goal of keeping spending levels even for the new budget year.

“I’m not in agreement for increases for nobody, and I’m gonna vote against it,” said District 1 Supervisor and Board President the Rev. Jerry Wilson. “People are just gonna have to cut back. I’m doing that. If they ain’t gonna cut back, then so be it.”

And while Wilson stuck to his guns, the board decided to spend an additional $400,000 for the new budget year — a 2.4 percent increase.

Wilson was joined by District 5 Supervisor Doug Falvey in opposition to increased spending.

“I still think we need to take the money away from the civic center, but y’all don’t agree with me,” Falvey told the board Monday. “Pat McCullough stood in here and told us they had more than $220,000 in cash, so this will give them more than $400,000.”

The county’s general fund will include close to $144,000 for insurance premium increases; more than $137,000 for the Lincoln County Jail; $95,000 for a busy election calendar that begins in November and runs into 2019; and $15,000 to cover falling revenue in the district attorney’s office.

Supervisors will also add another $200,000 to the solid waste fund to offset higher trash pickup fees without raising garbage bills, and use some of the bonus money generated by the climbing assessments to add more than $170,000 to their bridge funds.

More property tax revenue — higher assessments and expired exemptions — made the decision to spend easier. A one-half mill increase, earmarked for new radios for volunteer fire departments, is also part of the $20.9 million spending plan. The board won’t officially vote to approve the budget until a September public hearing.

The budget appears to be fair, with very little for taxpayers to get upset about. There is increased spending for infrastructure, more money for essential services and only a small tax increase that has a specific purpose and will benefit taxpayers. Of course, that could change before September’s public hearing. And given the about-face on granting funding requests, it just might.