Council discusses budget items

Published 1:16 am Thursday, May 2, 2013

During its most-recent budget work session, Washington’s City Council considered deferring some proposed expenditures in the upcoming 2013-2014 fiscal-year budget until later fiscal years.

Among the projects that could be delayed is the $75,000 project to repave the parking lot at the city’s warehouse and so some drainage work there.

“That is a significant amount of money during what I consider to be fairly tight times. I would prefer we just delay that until we’ve had an opportunity and perhaps have a little better picture,” Councilman Doug Mercer said. “We’ve indicated here that’s a $75,000 for one parking lot. We’re only going to spend $160,000 for repaving all the streets that we repave on an annual basis.”

Mayor Pro Tempore Bobby Roberson suggested doing only the drainage work first, followed by the repaving of the parking lot in a subsequent fiscal year.

“If we can’t do that, I agree with Councilman Mercer. I’d much rather leave that off until the following year,” Roberson said.

In a nonbinding straw poll, the council unanimously voted to defer the parking-lot project until the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

The council also discussed $150,000 allocated in the proposed budget to provide lighting at the McConnell Sports Complex soccer fields. Roberson said there’s a movement afoot to build a new soccer complex elsewhere. Spending $150,000 on lighting the current soccer fields may not be prudent if a new soccer complex is built elsewhere, he said.

There is a plan that calls for using the lighting installed at the existing soccer fields to provide lighting for baseball/softball fields that could replace the soccer fields at the McConnell Sports Complex if a new soccer complex is built elsewhere.

“If we’re going to do that, I don’t see any need to put the lighting out there now if in face we’re going to move the (soccer) fiends to another location,” Roberson said. “I’m saying with a tight budget I don’t know that we need to fund that project. I think we can wait a year, evaluate it, and there are other fields around the city where we can provide those activities like we’ve done in the past.”

Mercer also suggested deferring the lighting project.

“I would think that’s a fair idea, if we make a priority to follow through with the overall plan. In other words, if we’re talking to the soccer organization — which is a growing organization, a very, very vibrant organization — we’re saying if you can wait on the lights, there’s promise or the possibility for a dedicated complex, I think they would receive that one way. If we just say wait on the lights again, I think that would be received entirely differently.”

A nonbinding straw poll on the question of leaving the funding for the lighting in the proposed budget resulted in a 3-2 vote against the question. Council members Richard Brooks and Edward Moultrie voted to keep the funding for the project in the proposed budget. Council members William Pitt, Mercer and Roberson voted to defer the lighting project until a future fiscal year.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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