Board OKs $56 million budget

Published 11:02 am Friday, May 30, 2014

COURTLAND—The Southampton County Board of Supervisors voted 6-1 in favor of the $56.2 million budget for fiscal year 2014-2015, said Dallas Jones, chairman. He added that Glenn Updike, who represents the Newsoms District, voted no.

The decision took place Tuesday during the board’s regular monthly meeting.

“We adopted it as it was presented to us back at the public hearing,” Jones said.

Updike could not be reached for comment on Thursday owing to another professional obligation.

His wife, Lynda, confirmed that he had voted against the budget. Even during the public hearing, though, he had expressed concern especially the recommendation of raising the real estate tax by 2 cents to .77 cents per $100. He wants to see more money put into reserves.

The money from the taxes, however, will be dedicated to supporting fire and EMS operations. That suggestion came from County Administrator Michael Johnson.

Ronnie West, vice chairman, was reluctant to raise the taxes, but acknowledged it had to be done.

He said the needs of the fire and rescue services have been on his mind this year and the past few budgets.

“I did not want to raise taxes, but again I feel for the citizens that have to be protected,” said West. “It’s a service that everyone’s going to benefit from.”

He added that he hopes to find enough revenue next year to drop the tax by a penny. He also agreed with Updike’s call to increase reserves, saying it’s “a wonderful idea.”

Further, West looks for increasing shared services with Franklin.

One person who is happy about the budget being passed is Dr. Alvera Parrish, superintendent of Southampton County Public Schools. A little little more than $31 million was requested, which is 55 percent of the total county expenses.

“I’m very pleased with the outcome,” she said.