Belhaven mulls raises

Published 11:07 pm Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Community Editor

Following a budget workshop and public hearing at the Belhaven Civic Center on Monday night, one Belhaven councilman said he would like the town’s 2010-2011 budget to include salary or wage increases for town employees.
“We want to give some raises, especially to people that didn’t get one last year,” Councilman Nelson Guy said Tuesday afternoon in a brief interview.
Town Manager Guinn Leverett said the proposed budget, as agreed to Monday night by the council, does not include such pay raises.
“But I can always make budget amendments throughout the fiscal year,” he added.
The Town Council is expected to adopt the 2010-2011 fiscal year budget at its June 28 meeting. In the days leading up to the meeting, Guy said he wants the council to continue looking at pay raises as an option.
Councilman Steve Carawan said the proposed budget should be adopted as is, without pay raises.
“I don’t see that (pay raises) as something I’m going to be pushing for,” he said Tuesday in a brief interview.
Carawan said he hopes town employees understand the lack of salary or wage increases is because of the Great Recession and the downturn in the town’s revenues. Overall, the town’s general fund is expected to be down $143,936 from the current fiscal year, according to the proposed budget.
“I praise our employees, but they also understand times are lean,” Carawan said.
The town is in the process of filling two positions recently vacated: code-enforcement officer and finance officer.
Marty Overholt resigned from his post as code-enforcement officer May 25, while Kyle DeHaven resigned as finance officer shortly thereafter.
Overholt’s resignation came following a heated exchange between Guy and Carawan at the council’s May 24 meeting, The exchange was over renovation work being done to the Belhaven fire station, which was overseen by Overholt.
DeHaven stepped down to take a similar position with the town of La Grange. He had been a town employee since May 2009, and he helped Leverett author the town’s proposed budget.
“He had a great run,” Leverett said. “I think he learned a lot.”
DeHaven, a recent graduate of East Carolina University, wanted to work closer to his home in Greenville, according to Leverett. He will continue to help Leverett modify the proposed budget for the council’s final approval.
Representatives from the Belhaven Community Chamber of Commerce and Belhaven Memorial Museum used Monday night’s budget hearing to request more money for their respective programs and services. The proposed budget includes $10,000 in special appropriations for the chamber and $3,500 for the museum. In response to their requests, the council agreed to appropriate additional money to the museum, but not the chamber.
“The council decided the museum needs additional support,” Leverett said.
According to estimates in the proposed budget, the town will appropriate a total of $15,600 to the chamber and $4,200 to the museum by the end of the current fiscal year.
Guy said the money will help the museum “survive.”
“We’d like to have a lot more money to do a lot more things,” he said.
Carawan called the proposed budget “lean,” adding it was well-crafted by Leverett and DeHaven.
“We cut it as lean as we could without stopping business altogether,” Guy said.