With several commissioners making last-minute arguments, the county budget easily passed with 17 commissioners voting in favor of the proposed property tax increase. After that vote, 21 commissioners voted to approve the budget itself.
The agenda and commissioners packet can be found here. Let’s take a look at what happened in this month’s commission meeting.
Sewer Contract Approval
Over the past few months, Commissioner Doug Cunningham and Finance Director Cole Bradford worked with Fayetteville Public Utilities to renegotiate the existing contract for sewer services. The new contract was presented tonight to the commission for approval.
Before the vote, Lincoln County Board of Public Utilities Chairman Mike Gooding asked the commission to delay the vote until their board has a chance to review. Mr. Gooding said at first glance, the renegotiated contract was a “far cry better than the older one”. He still has questions and concerns around the guaranteed daily capacity, which is essentially a guaranteed minimum payment each month. Mr. Gooding went on to say that he “wants a fair deal for FPU and us”.
Mr. Cunningham spoke following Mr. Gooding to persuade the commissioners on voting to approve the renegotiated contract right away. Pointing towards over a million dollars in savings, Mr. Cunningham said, “LCBPU knew exactly what we were seeking”.
Make sure to watch the full exchange in the video below. The contract passed with a unanimous vote from commissioners.
$0.14 Property Tax Increase
The budget section of the meeting started with a proposed $0.14 increase in property taxes, which works out to a 6% increase in current property tax rates. On a property valued at $115,000, this comes out to be an extra $40/year.
Prior to the vote, Commissioners Bryant, Cunningham, Simms, and Thornton urged their fellow commissioners to pass the increase. Each reflected on the importance of a safe learning environment for students and teachers. For those commissioners in favor of SROs but looking for alternative funding options, Mr. Cunningham said, “Those that say the money is there need to lay it out on the table.”
No members spoke to the commission against the proposed tax increase during the meeting. After this article was posted, Commissioner Head wrote in the comments section below:
“Tough vote on the tax increase for me. My District 3 constituents were clear on their direction and it is my responsibility to represent them as their commissioner. There are times the heart says one thing but the direction is clear. I do want the folks to know, as I have continued to state, I am strongly in favor of the SROs and security enhancements to provide a safer environment for the students and teachers.”
The property tax increase passed with 17 yes votes and 7 no votes. Those voting no were Commissioners Brown, Reavis, Thorpe, Guin, Head, Monks, and Jean.
Budget Appropriations and Non-profit Funding
With the new property tax approved, the commission turned to the full appropriations budget. This easily passed with 21 yeas to 3 nays. The 3 no votes came from Commissioners Brown, Thorpe, and Jean.
Non-profit funding passed with 20 yes votes to 3 no votes (Commissioners Brown, Thorpe, and Monks) and 1 abstention (Commissioner Malone).
The full county commission meeting can be seen below. Mark your calendars for next month’s meeting on August 21st at 6pm.