County Commissioners dispute overspending by Solid Waste Department

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PASQUOTANK COUNTY — At Monday’s Finance Committee meeting, Sherry Small, the county’s Finance Director, made a presentation regarding reports of overspending by the Solid Waste Department.

Small disputed all the claims and data, previously supplied by local critics of the department. Her remarks were intended to convey that there is no problem.

All of the commissioners, except one, were seemed pleased with the information provided and the meeting was concluded with the presumption that claims and other charges are without merit.


How this was done is very simple. County officials acknowledged all the costs, but then proceeded to take credits for revenue received to arrive at a new net cost total that is more in line with the cost structures of other nearby counties that were recently surveyed.

In so doing, officials said these credits applied only to Pasquotank County and that the other counties did not receive these incomes. Therefore, they could present a picture that would support their position and do it in such a way as to hopefully avoid any further complaints.

In this entire exercise, there was never any attempt to discuss the actual cost of the Solid Waste Department. Instead, the entire focus was on limiting and minimizing the differences. There should have been no reason to expect that the Commissioners would admit that any department was wasting this much money.

They have been ignoring this matter for at least six years and sweeping it under the rug, while vilifying any messenger that dares to challenge the status quo.

In addition to all this, there is still the matter of former employee James White who is supposed to be on trial this week – assuming the local District Attorney will follow thru and not seek another continuance. This case has been continued several times over a period of almost two years.

Last but not least, as before, this entire matter has been characterized as a race issue by Commissioner Perry, according insiders familiar with the situation This is no surprise that Mr. Perry sees this as a racial matter, even though there is no truth to it. He has stated this opinion before as a means of deflecting criticism of Mike Etheridge, Director of the Solid Waste.Department.

In regard to previous reports about cardboard being sold to recyclers for far less than market rates, a nearby county is selling this material for $80 to 100 per ton. They receive the cardboard from the convenience sites, then bale it for pickup by the company with whom they have a contract. Further details will be provided on a subsequent article.

The bottom line is that the citizens of Pasquotank County will not see any cost reductions, tax reductions or any financial changes, as a result of this issue if the Commissioners have anything to do with it. Why they seem so intent on protecting Mike Etheridge is anything but clear. Is it just plain incompetence or something else? We shall see.

In a separate matter, the Finance Director for College of the Albemarle made a presentation to the Commissioners about the cost of the school’s HVAC system. Approximately $85,000 has recently been budgeted for repairs, but before that work could begin, heating problems surfaced. The Director cited a cost of $120,000 to replace needed furnaces. Elected officials opted to redirect the $85,000, with an additional $35,000 to be pulled from reserve funds.