By Gary Nelson
Senior staff writer
Cumberland County's budget committee approved making a one-time donation of $100,000 this year to the Cumberland County Highway Department.
Back in April, commissioners told Cumberland County Highway Superintendent Scott Blaylock they would have to consider a funding request he made of $600,000 for the highway department toward the end of budget deliberations.
Blaylock was seeking financial help from the county to aid in road repairs. The Cumberland County Highway Department is funded solely through the state's gasoline tax. Cumberland County has not given any funding to the highway department in the past and the department receives no county tax money.
At last week's budget committee meeting, Allen Foster, 4th District commissioner, said, "I'd like to help the highway department and I think the county should help, but I know we can't do $600,000 like Scott had requested. We have granted almost everything in this budget and will have a $4.4 million fund balance. I think we could give them $100,000 from the general fund and that would still leave us with a $4.3 million beginning fund balance."
Jan McNeil, 5th District commissioner, agreed and supported the motion.
Blaylock said, "I appreciate the help and whatever I get from the county is going into the tar and chip and hot mix lines for road repairs. Anything will help."
"Won't this create an issue in transferring from the fund balance?" Carmin Lynch, 9th District commissioner, said.
"It could, but if we run it past the (state) comptroller as a one-time transfer, it should be okay," Nathan Brock, Cumberland County finance director said.
"Is there a cleaner way to do it?" Foster asked.
"Well, through the tax penny distribution, normally, would be the best way," Brock said.
However, commissioners had already voted on the tax penny distribution earlier in the meeting and did not want to go back and change that. There was also a question among commissioners of if it would be advisable to take such action once the rate is set and approved by the committee.
They decided to leave it as a one-time donation for fiscal year 2013-'14 budget. If it goes through with the support of the full county commission and is approved with the county budget, it will be the first time the county has aided the road department.
Voting in favor of the donation were commissioners Harry Sabine, 1st District; Foster; McNeil; Terry Carter, 6th District; Jeff Brown, 8th District; and John Kinnunen, 9th District.
Voting no, against the donation, were commissioners Dave Hassler, 3rd District; and Mike Harvel, 7th District.
Nancy Hyder, 2nd District commissioner, did not attend the meeting.
The donation will be considered in the full Cumberland County 2013-'14 fiscal year budget, which will be voted on during a special-called meeting Aug. 6 at 6 p.m.
County commissioners will also vote to set the property tax rate.
Commissioners on the budget committee set the tax rate distribution at 56.5 cents for the general fund; 11.25 cents for the sanitation fund; 62.5 cents for the general purpose school fund; and leave the debt service fund at 19.5 cents for a total of $1.4975.
The public hearing will be at 5 p.m. and the special-called meeting will follow at 6 p.m. Both meetings will be in the large courtroom of the Cumberland County Courthouse.
The public is welcome to attend both the public hearing at 5 p.m. and the special-called meeting at 6 p.m.