Budget talks pack board meeting

Published 9:02 am Wednesday, March 27, 2013

COURTLAND—There was standing room only at the Southampton County Board of Supervisors meeting Monday night. The vast majority of those in attendance were there to speak during the public hearing about the upcoming budget.

Teachers, parents, administrators and citizens came forward during the Advance Citizen Comment period for the county’s fiscal year 2013-2014 budget, to offer support for the county’s schools.

Many speakers urged the board to consider approving the Southampton County School Board’s budget, which has not yet been formally presented. The board was reminded of the importance of the schools; the needs for foreign language and math/science teachers; the need for new buses; and how the children are the future.

Bus driver Leroy Holloway made a plea for ensuring the children’s’ safety saying that Route 58 and county back roads are a challenge.

“You should ride with us — to see what we are up against,” he said.

Prior to the citizen comment period, County Administrator Mike Johnson gave an overview of the budget process.

During that presentation, he said that the state’s share for a two percent teacher raise will have to be matched by the county. He said that since 2009, funding for education from the state has been reduced 15 percent, but that locally funding for education had increased by almost 20 percent.

A draft county budget should be available by April 10 and then the board will hold three work-sessions to fine-tune it on April 17, 24 and 29. At the April 17 work session, county departments and agencies, including the school board, will present their requests. A second public hearing slated for May 20 will provide citizens an opportunity to comment on the final draft of the proposed budget.

The budget is expected to be adopted May 28.