A majority of Pitt County commissioners said they support the county’s fiscal year 2021-22 budget after a public hearing drew no comments for or against the plan.
All but one commissioner during Tuesday's meeting called the $281.45 million proposal a good budget, pointing out the budget reduces the county property tax rate by a half-cent per $100 valuation while fully funding the requests of Pitt County Schools and Pitt Community College.
The Board of Commissioners is scheduled to reconvene at 6 p.m. Thursday to vote on the budget ordinance. The virtual session will be broadcast live on Suddenlink channel 13 and on https://www.youtube.com/pittcountync.
The budget includes more than $17 million in one-time capital projects, including $6 million to expand the Department of Social Services’ human service center on Government Circle so all offices can be located in one building.
Six million dollars is also appropriated to constructing an administration building for the sheriff’s office at the Pitt County Detention Center.
The budget put $650,000 into vehicle replacement, $612,000 to buy a new mobile dental clinic for the health department’s Smile Safari program and more than $220,000 to purchase radios and a drone for the sheriff’s office.
It also establishes funding for a Pitt County Office Building study to relocate facilities in downtown Greenville once the sheriff’s office moves out of the courthouse into its own facility; it sets aside money to design a gymnasium at Alice F. Keene Park and make renovations to the public health building’s medical records area.
“This is my 20th budget presentation before you and final presentation, with my pending retirement at the end of the year. It has been a pleasure to do it 20 times and it’s hard to believe we’ve been through this process 20 times,” County Manager Scott Elliott said. He announced last month he is retiring at year’s end.
A great management team, great department directors and great staff have made budget preparations a relatively smooth process, he said.
The half-cent property tax rate reduction would drop it from 68.91 cents per $100 valuation to 68.41 cents.
The proposed general fund budget, that part of the budget linked to the property tax rate, is $205.9 million. It includes a one-time transfer from the county’s fund balance to help fund the one-time capital projects.
Pitt County Schools will receive $44.3 million from the county and Pitt Community College will receive $6.5 million.
“In 20 years there’s not been many times we’ve been able to fund Pitt County Schools at 100 percent,” Elliott said.
Other budget highlights include:
- $16 million for the sheriff’s office.
- $17.6 million for the detention center.
- The EMS District tax rate, paid by all property owners living outside Greenville, remains at 5.95 percent. The county will implement a supplemental tier funding system which is based on the number of calls answered by a squad, in the new fiscal year.
- Two of the county’s 20 volunteer fire department tax districts requested tax increases. Belvoir is seeking a 1.25-cent increase which will raise its rate from 2.5 cents to 3.27 cents per $100 valuation. Sharp Point is seeking a 2-cent increase which will raise its rate from 6 cents to 8 cents per $100 valuation.
- A 2.8 percent market adjustment pay increase for employees.
- Thirty-two new employee positions spread across social services, public health and EMS.
“I think it is a good year for the budget. I will vote for it,” Commissioner Tom Coulson said.
Commissioners Lauren White, Beth Ward, Mary Perkins-Williams, Melvin McLawhorn, Michael Fitzpatrick and Ann Floyd Huggins said it’s a good budget and they support it.
“Scott ... it’s great to go out with a good budget, dropping the tax rate. You are going out with flying colors,” Floyd Huggins said.
“There are six months to go, I hope they keep flying,” Elliott said.
Commissioner Christopher Nunnelly said he had no comment about the budget.
Along with a vote on the budget, it was announced the commissioners would also hold a special meeting at 6:15 p.m. Thursday.
The notice said the commissioners will go into closed session “to discuss matters relating to the location or expansion of industries or other businesses in the area served by the public body.”
Specifically the board will discuss either a contract or a proposed contract for the acquisition of real property “by purchase, option exchange or lease.”