Budget, EMS on Tuesday’s agenda

Published 1:39 am Monday, January 2, 2017

The 2017-18 budget proceedings will be a topic of decision at Tuesday’s meeting of the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners.

County Manager Brian Alligood will present a guide through the next several months, to be approved by commissioners, as they take on the task of creating a new budget. According to the schedule, by the end of January, commissioners will have budget packets in hand and outside agency budget request forms will be distributed. The plan calls for the board to sit down to its annual retreat on Feb. 9-10, hammering out county priorities for the next fiscal year. By early March, budgets will be submitted, and the week of March 13, the finance department will take on the task of compiling and reviewing the information to be posted on the county website and officially presented to the board in a special-called meeting on May 15.

Over the following two weeks, commissioners will review and modify the budget during five schedule sessions, according to the schedule. A public hearing will be held during the June regular meeting of the board and final approval is slated for another special-called meeting on June 19, two weeks before the 2017-18 fiscal year begins on July 1.

The board will also vote on Commissioner Hood Richardson’s request to be allowed to give the county manager and finance department direction as to how the budget should be presented: “specifically whether it should be continuing budget or a zero based budget,” the agenda reads.

Richardson also is proposing that the Board recall its earlier decision to end its contract with the City of Washington to cover EMS service for Washington Township, which encompasses the Clark’s Neck and Old Ford fire districts. Since the county’s vote to end the contract, many have expressed concerns about the decision, from city Manager Bobby Roberson’s concerns about the financial impact it will have on the city budget to residents’ concerns that stationing a Beaufort County EMS ambulance at Old Ford Volunteer Fire Department will drastically increase response times to the more populous U.S. Highway 264 corridor west of Washington.

The decision was based on county efforts to make paramedic-level service available to all county residents, according to discussion surrounding the vote. Washington Fire-Rescue-EMS has covered Washington Township for more than two decades.

The Board of Commissioners meeting will be held Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. and is open to the public. The County Administrative Offices are located at 121 W. Third St., Washington.