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County approves new budget

The county’s $9,264,171 budget for fiscal year 2014-15 was unanimously approved June 11. The fiscal year begins July 1. According to county manager John Hanson, the budget focuses on improving road conditions across Pike County. He said he does not anticipate significant changes in taxes but the state’s tax digest has not yet been released and that information hinges on the digest. ’We hope to have the numbers around the first of August. Once the tax digest is released, we can determine the millage rate at that time,’ he said. ‘We made a number of increases to the public works budget. Coupled with those increases and SPLOST revenues, we should see a big increase on improvement of our roads. We plan to manage those funds as tightly as possible and get as much done as possible.’ Zebulon-Hollonville Road will be resurfaced entirely, with work to start sometime in the fall. During the second reading June 3 and third reading June 11 of the county’s FY 2014-15 budget, several changes were made including increasing public works funding and removing $67,000 from the recreation department’s impact fee line item. Commissioner Carol Bass asked June 3 why the budget showed $67,000 in the recreation department’s impact fees. Hanson said the recreation department asked to start using impact fees for necessary repairs. If not included in the budget, it would have to attend meetings to request funds for each project. Bass moved to remove the funding and require the authority to request funds for repairs. It passed unanimously. In the same meeting commissioners voted to approve a 2% raise for employees at a total of $3,200. ’I’m fine with the previous cuts but I’d like to include the 2% raise,’ said commissioner James Jenkins. ‘They’ve been cut so much from $400,000 to $280,000.’ Commissioners approved a $50,000 increase for paved and unpaved roads to provide for the lease of needed equipment and the salary for a paving superintendent who also will serve as a heavy equipment operator. Jenkins noted the increase will allow Pike to improve the condition of its roads. The county also: ’¢ Discussed the reduction of the county contribution to resource officers’ salaries provided to the board of edcuation to $62,000 including benefits, worker’s compensation and health insurance. ’¢ Denied a request from the chief magistrate judge to pay for the state bar fee for her and a part-time judge, noting that being an attorney is not required by law for the positions. ’¢ Negated a previous decrease and approved an increase of $3,175 for the library board due to an increase in gas costs and other operational costs. ’¢ Heard from Robert E. Adams Jr. who said funding for the local senior center only allows a certain number of meals and he would not want seniors at the center to have to watch others eat a meal and not get fed. Hanson said he is looking into the matter and can reallocate the block grant if necessary.

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