County borrows money to pay bills

Published 9:21 am Wednesday, September 26, 2012


COURTLAND—Southampton County supervisors on Monday voted 6-0 to borrow up to $3 million to cover bills until tax revenue comes in.

It’s the first time since 2001 that the county has had to take out a tax-anticipation loan.

“We are not living within our means,” said Newsoms District Supervisor Glenn Updike.

“I hope this is a one-time affair especially with debt payments on major projects going down,” added Franklin District Supervisor Barry Porter. “But we need to avoid being in this same situation next September.”

On Sept. 13, County Administrator Mike Johnson learned from Treasurer David Britt that there would not be enough money to cover bills for September, October and perhaps November.

Britt noted the county goes through this process every year. Taxes are collected once a year, beginning in October, yet the fiscal year begins July 1.

“The reason for the steep shortfall this year is two major bills came due,” said Johnson, referring to loans for developing the Turner Tract Industrial Park and Courtland sewage plant.

Johnson said the county in 2001 ask for a line of credit for up to $4 million, but used very little.

“I would not think the county would borrow money that was unneeded or raise taxes when the incoming monies will more than replenish the reserves and repay all the expenses,” said Berlin/Ivor District Supervisor Ronnie West.

“I will vote for this one time, one and only time,” added Updike. “We need to cut spending. We have increased our debt this year rather than cut it. I will vote for it this one time because of our credit ratings. I will not vote for it again.”