County taps savings by $2.4 million to balance 2023-24 budget

Officials hold tax rate steady, but hint at major hike next year

Water bills up by $4.60 per month, for typical household

PAMLICO COUNTY – With total estimated expenses of $24.6 million for the coming fiscal year (beginning July 1) while ad valorem tax revenue looks to be just $12.4 million, the need to close a sizable gap is obvious. Some factors for the complex equation include:

  • A much-ballyhooed salary analysis, which calls for a cool $1 million per year increase in compensation for county employees. But, it won’t be dispensed all at once! Paychecks, according to what Pamlico County Manager Tim Buck calls hard-to-fill positions, will see immediate bumps, while other employees can look for one-time supplements.

  • A drastic decline in annual revenue from the number of federal inmates housed at the Pamlico County Detention Center (paid by Uncle Sam @ $80 per day, per inmate – meals included). Losing that type of revenue, officially known as UNRESTRICTED INTERGOVERNMENTAL, really hurts because it helps to lower property taxes. Current projections call for receipts in 2023-24 of approximately $1 million versus recent years that have seen as much as $1.5 million.

  • More money for the county’s Rescue Squad / Ambulance Service, a 24/7 operation that is ALWAYS busy. To be specific – an increase of $150,000. In fact, County Commissioner Candy Bohmert stressed its importance during budget deliberations Monday night: “We have hurt one of our essential services, although I know they can come back in January to ask for more.” Bohmert’s comment triggered a gentle clarification from Ed Riggs Jr., the county commission chairman: “Those are not actual cuts,” explained Riggs. “They are just smaller increases than the Rescue Squad asked for.” SPECIAL NOTE: If T.W, Harris, Captain of the Rescue Squad, does indeed show up again, this newspaper will offer a full report!

  • What an ideal point to segue into the usual give-and-take of budget negotiation – not only in Pamlico County, but throughout the universe! Rarely will a department, agency, school, or other entity ever submit a funding request less than that granted for the preceding year. Those familiar with the annual process concede ‘ask for more than you need’ is the likely mentality among Department Heads. “Why is that you may ask?” Answer: Somebody higher up will likely whack an initial request! And locally, our aforementioned Tim Buck is pretty good at it. To be sure, taxpayers appreciate his sharp, red pencil.

Got a gripe about the budget? Plan to show up at 7pm on Monday, June 19, when the County Commissioners will host a public hearing on the document. Second floor of the Bayboro Courthouse. See you there.