, 2015

Northumberland approves
$32.6 million county budget

by Renss Greene

HEATHSVILLE—The Northumberland board of supervisors on June 26 narrowly passed an appropriations resolution for the fiscal year 2014-15 budget.

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The resolution passed 3-2, supported by Ronald Jett, Joe Self and Richard Haynie; Jim Long and Thomas Tomlin voted against the motion.

The resolution includes $32,405,916 in appropriated funds, and some $260,723 in unappropriated funds that can be dispensed later, for a total budget of $32,666,639. This compares to $30,428,236 in expenditures in the 2013-14 budget, and the $37,623,600 requested in the proposed budget.

The largest item in the budget, schools, grew by $224,432 from last year’s budget, but was well short of the $1,399,828 increase the school board requested. This drew Long’s opposition.

“I was afraid something might be cut that our kids need, and I wanted to make sure that they got the money they need to run summer school,” Long said.

This is also the first year the board of supervisors adopted the school budget by category. If school officials want to transfer money between any of the seven categories, they must seek board approval.

School officials were forced to re-address their budget at a special meeting later the same day.

“What’s their rhyme or reason for any of this?” complained school board member Dean Sumner during the session. “They’re over-budgeting in some areas, and then under-budgeting in other areas.”

According to school board administrative assistant Lynn Mason, the staff hopes to have a budget ready for the July 14 school board meeting. Meanwhile, the board plans to approve a 1% raise for school employees and move ahead with approving contracts for the 2014-15 school year.

Tomlin’s opposition comes from a long-standing dispute over taking on long-term debt. Tomlin said he would rather have seen large projects like the new schools and courts building put to a voter referendum.

“The vote no is because the voters for three or four projects have not had what I view as their Constitutional entitlement to determine whether they’re going to indebt themselves,” Tomlin said.

Other departments which did not receive full requests include the General District Court, which did not receive $10,000 it requested for supplemental wages.

The sheriff’s office was appropriated $2,188,373 of its $2,388,373 request, with the remaining $200,000 reserved in unappropriated funds.

The Department of Social Services received $2,211,112 of its $2,275,752 request, with another $60,723 in unappropriated funds. The unappropriated funds include $36,723 for an additional staff position as the department requested earlier in the budget process.

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