City to reimburse for referendum costs next year

Published 11:45 am Friday, October 27, 2017

The city of Franklin will reimburse Southampton County for costs associated with publicizing its courthouse referendum to city residents at the beginning of the next fiscal year.

Several readers of The Tidewater News had recently inquired as to why the City of Franklin had yet to bear any of the costs associated with publicizing the referendum, such as postage for mass mailings, newspaper advertisement of informational presentations on the matter, and the rental of facilities within the city’s borders for said presentations.

According to City Manager R. Randy Martin, the reason for this is because those costs are rolled into the city’s annual reimbursement to Southampton County for its share of the courthouse’s operating cost. He explained that a formula was developed back in 1961 when the then-Town of Franklin became a city, requiring it to be responsible for 30 percent of those expenses.

Southampton County Administrator Mike Johnson explained that the city typically remits payment of those costs in the first few days of the next fiscal year, which in this case would mean payment would be made around July 1, 2018, for any expenses incurred in fiscal year 2017-2018.

“By law, we have to keep the books open for 45 days to allow bills and invoices that were incurred prior to June 30 to be processed and charged to the correct year,” Johnson said. “So in September, we begin compiling the year-end statements for the annual audit. Once the audit is complete at the end of November, we inform the City of their equitable share and they build that number into their budget the following spring.”

“Anything [pertaining to the referendum] exclusively for city residents, like a mailing, would be a city cost,” Martin added, explaining that in such cases, the city would be responsible for 100 percent of those expenses.

He expects to put out such a mailing to city residents by the end of this week, and emphasized that it would be strictly informational, meaning that the city cannot and would not advocate for either option.