County commissioners approve budget with no tax increase

Jun. 25, 2013 @ 07:35 PM

On Tuesday evening, the Vance County Board of Commissioners approved a 2013-2014 budget that will maintain the current ad valorem tax rate of 78.2 cents per $100 valuation.

The general fund budget totals $42,606,296. With all special funds included, the budget grand total is $51,015,741. It is the fifth consecutive year of no property tax increase for the county.

The board approved the budget on a 6-1 vote.

Commissioner Dan Brummitt voted nay, saying, “The county is not growing but government is getting bigger.”

Commissioner Deborah Brown supported the overall budget but said she had reservations about the restructuring of several departments.

At the beginning of the budget development process, more than $47 million was requested in the general fund. To meet the commissioners’ directive not to increase taxes, county manager Jerry Ayscue and finance director David Beck reduced that figure to $42,563,693, which was presented to the commissioners for consideration as they began a series of work sessions to fine tune the budget. Several long work sessions by the commissioners produced the final budget of $42,606,296

The budget was balanced by appropriating $877,702 from the fund balance. Chairman Tommy Hester said that was almost $100,000 less than was appropriated last year.

“We’re not where we should be but we’re moving in the right direction,” he said.

The commissioners approved a resolution authorizing the chairman to execute an agreement between the county and Vance County Schools to issue Qualified Zone Academy Bonds in the amount of $2 million for capital improvements to school property. L.B. Yancey Elementary School will be used as collateral.

Jonathan Care, the county attorney, explained that the county will finance the improvements but the school system will have oversight responsibility.

Ayscue said, “This allows the school district to qualify for interest-free money. It’s a good financial mechanism for us to make improvements in the schools.”

He said the arrangement must also be approved by the Vance County Board of Education.

The resolution was approved unanimously.

On a split vote, the commissioners approved a revised lease agreement with Henderson Collegiate Charter School. Brown said she could not support the agreement because of concerns she had for the safety, health and welfare of the children.

She said she had received reports of lack of parental supervision on field trips. In addition, she expressed reservations about leasing public land for something for which “we cannot be held accountable.”

Care said the school operates under a special use permit.

“There is not a liability that would bounce back on the county,” he said.

Commissioners Hester, Brummitt, Gordon Wilder and Archie Taylor and voted to approve the lease. Brown, Terry Garrison and Eddie Wright voted nay.

In other business, the commissioners:

• Appointed Hester to be a voting delegate to the National Association of Counties annual conference with Wilder as alternate.

• Approved Community Development Block Grant debarment certifications.

• Authorized the staff to make year-end closeouts of the 2012-2013 budget.

Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.