Town board votes to pay 5-year-old surveying bill

Published 6:17 pm Tuesday, January 24, 2017

BELHAVEN — The Belhaven Board of Aldermen voted to pass a budget amendment at Monday night’s meeting to pay for an almost five-year-old bill.

In early August 2016, a $12,000 bill from Beaufort County Commissioner Hood Richardson’s land surveying firm made its way to the aldermen for zoning-related work beginning in 2012.

At the time, town Manager Woody Jarvis said he was uncomfortable with presenting such a large bill to the board, so he and Richardson worked out an agreement to reduce it to about $6,000.

“It all just seems very strange,” Alderman Yvonne DeRuiz said in August. “My opinion is — a bill from 2012? Hood’s a businessman. Excuse me?”

The budget amendment passed Monday night allows funds to be dispersed from the town’s account to pay off the bill.

“To pay for something in a municipality that’s not a budgeted line item, you have to do a budget amendment,” Jarvis said. “That way, you’ve kind of taken all the legislative requirements for handling municipal funds and done it by the book.”

Despite confusion over charges from several years ago, Jarvis said he thinks Richardson’s firm simply waited to bill the town until all work was completed. Redoing the town’s zoning maps was an ongoing, years-long process and wasn’t completed until 2016, he said.

Jarvis said the board expressed its desire to receive bills as the work progresses in these cases, rather than all together, because it was a substantial balance for the town to pay at once.

“They would rather have bills all along rather than one bill at the end,” he said.

Now that the budget amendment is passed, Jarvis said all that’s left is to do is begin the payment approval process. The Town expects to have the money to the firm as soon as possible.