Hyde Commissioners seek budget solutions Revenue shortage may require tax hike

Published 7:40 am Monday, June 18, 2007

By By DOUG GIBBS, Daily News Correspondent
SWAN QUARTER — The Hyde County Commissioners are faced with a tough decision if they want to adopt a balanced budget for the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1.
The county is facing a serious revenue shortage, according to commissioners. Making up the difference between expenditures and revenues could require a 12- or 13-cent tax increase.
Hyde County’s current tax rate is 71.5 cents per $100 valuation.
The board of commissioners held a special meeting at Mattamuskeet School last Monday to discuss the budget.
Interim County Manager Carl Classen has presented a budget to the commissioners that calls for no tax increase. The proposed budget calls for dipping into the county’s fund balance to cover the shortage.
Commissioner Alice Armstrong from Fairfield believes that the budget is out of balance.
Commissioners’ Chairman Charles Ray Spencer indicated that he would be willing to support a 3.5 cents tax increase.
Commissioner Barry Swindell said he could live with a 1- or 2-cent tax increase for the benefit of the schools and the sheriff’s department. Swindell wants all of the unfilled positions to be kept in the sheriff department’s budget.
Classen’s proposed budget anticipates collecting $50,000 in delinquent taxes. But County Attorney Sid Hassell thinks the county can collect up to $200,000 in the upcoming fiscal year.
Classen agreed to amend the budget to reflect the increase.
Costs for collecting and disposing of solid waste will see another increase. The costs could surpass $800,000 this year.
Under the current budget, annual fees for collecting garbage from homes brings in $150. The actual cost of the service is about $225 per year.
Commissioner Tom Davis favors increasing the solid waste fee in the upcoming fiscal budget to cover 85 percent of trash disposal, and bumping up fees to cover 100 percent of the cost in fiscal 2008-2009.
At Monday’s meeting, Sheriff David Mason reminded the commissioners that the deputy salaries’ are very low. More equipment is needed to fight crime, Mason said. The juvenile crime rate is also on the rise.
The board will continue its budget deliberations during today’s regularly scheduled meeting. Another special meeting has been scheduled for June 25. The budget has to be adopted by July 1.