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County proposes $9.1 million budget

Pike County commissioners were presented with the Fiscal Year 2015-16 budget at their Wednesday, April 8 meeting. The $9.1 million proposed budget is slated to have around $250,000 lower expenditures compared to last year’s $9.4 million budget which included a $150,000 expenditure for the replacement of the Old Zebulon Road culvert. The first reading of the proposed budget is set for Wednesday, May 13 at 9 a.m. ’With this budget, we tried to be as diligent as possible and not go to taxpayers for additional funds. We all know road conditions have been and will continue to be our major concern. We will continue to use 2011 SPLOST money for improvements and for rental releases to implement the countywide patching and paving program,’ said county manager John Hanson. ‘The 2015 LMIG project will include the resurfacing of Williamson-Zebulon Road and Requests For Bids will be sent out next week for that project.’ Hanson recommended commissioners consider a 3% pay increase for county employees – not including himself, commissioners, Constitutional officers or other elected officials. ’As we consider our most valuable asset our employees, it is my recommendation to approve a 3% salary increase for the employees of Pike County,’ he said. ‘This budget is presented with no anticipation of a tax increase to the citizens of Pike County, including the addition of a 4% salary increase should it be considered. It’s my recommendation that we give a 3% increase to our employees and we will still be under the amount of expenditures from last year.’ The budget also included a recommendation for an additional full time employee in the Tax Assessors office, a part time employee for Buildings and Grounds and a full time employee to work with Planning and Zoning as well as being the Animal Control Officer for the county. ’The Tax Assessors Office has been working with less employees than they need and they are not able to cover some things that need to be covered. An extra employee will allow them to have a Level 2 appraiser in the field all the time to get them reports as needed. It will also allow them to work on commercial properties which haven’t been worked on in many years,’ said Hanson. ‘We are also recommending another part time employee be hired for Buildings and Grounds as we have added the library and several other areas. It would be advantageous to have another part time employee instead of one full time employee. We are getting an onslaught of animal control and rabies calls and we need to have someone handle that position and help out with planning and zoning as well.’ Hanson said the proposed budget will again contribute to the Capital Acquisition Improvement Program to address needs of various county departments. The proposed budget sets aside $25,000 for the capital projects fund. ’Some counties contribute around $1 million each year to their CAP programs but our county is not quite that large,’ said Hanson. ‘We started that program last year and have used those funds to purchase computers and items for different departments and have similar projects proposed for this year.’ Hanson said changes to insurance could impact the final budget numbers and recommended a change to coverage to mitigate the additional cost anticipated. ’This year were on track for about a 7.5% increase which would have been about a $44,000 increase to the county,’ he said. ‘We got with our provider and discussed our options. We think the best option would be to change the deductibles for employee from $1,000 to $1,500, but we can offer employees an option to buy back up to the $1,000 deductible.’ Several commissioners thanked Hanson and staff members for their work on the proposed budget as did the county attorneys Rob and Tom Morton. ’I probably have had more experience in dealing with city, county and federal budgets than anyone present,’ said Tom Morton who has more than 66 years experience as an attorney. ‘Your county manager has presented to you one of the most comprehensive and detailed proposed budgets for Pike County. I have never seen anyone go into such detail in the short period of time since he’s come on board. One of the things that show his character is his recommendation for an employee salary increase.’ Commissioners also approved the second reading of the adoption of the official zoning map at the April 8 meeting and it was signed and displayed in the commissioners’ meeting room. At the March 31 commissioners meeting, Pike Community Resource Network executive director Mike Powell discussed Pinwheels for Prevention and Child Abuse Prevention Month in April. He informed citizens and commissioners that pinwheels representing local child protective services investigations had been placed in front of the pre-K building. At the March 31 meeting, the county also: ’¢ Heard that two vans were received from the McIntosh Trail Council On Aging and will be used at the senior center. ’¢ Reappointed Ken Gran, George Norris and Melissa Bottoms to the Pike County Agribusiness Authority to fill three year terms set to expire March 31, 2018. ’¢ Held a public hearing and approved a rezoning request from C-3 to A-R for a 6.3 acre property on Highway 19 north owned by Michael and Denise Kimbell that is being used for only residential purposes. ’¢ Held a public hearing and approved a special exception request in an A-R district to allow for a gunsmith/gun repair business in ht home of Jason Scott on Misty Lane with several conditions, including requiring an annual business license, that the business shall follow all federal and state laws and new signs must conform to the county sign ordinance. ’¢ Heard from chairman Briar Johnson that the Farm Tour sponsored by the Agribusiness Authority ‘was fantastic’ and ‘couldn’t have been any better.’ ’¢ Heard from the county attorney Rob Morton that work is ongoing with different entities on intergovernmental agreements and issues such as planning and zoning, fire departments and other services that are either duplicated or may be available from a different source at to provide better service at a better cost to citizens. ’¢ Held a public hearing a approved the first reading of the adoption of the Pike County official zoning map.

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