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Panel: Split most of funds among schools, sheriff / April 25, 2013
The Halifax County Board of Supervisors’ finance committee voted 2-1 Wednesday afternoon to give the school division an additional $150,000 out of an available chunk of funding — $593,000 in all — that can be restored to the budget.

The recommendation would bring the county’s contribution to the local schools to $13,417,529, if the full board agrees. The new FY2014 budget begins July 1.

The other big allocation recommended by the panel was an approximate $150,000 for the relocation of the Halifax County Sheriff’s Department. The department will have to be moved prior to the demolition of the old jail which is part of the renovation of the Halifax County Courthouse project.

The three-member finance panel also recommended that $50,000 be added back to the coming year’s budget for the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority, after having earlier cut the IDA budget by $100,000.

Members also recommended that $50,000 be earmarked for a down payment on a new front end loader for the Public Works Department. And they recommended that another $50,000 be set aside to pay for architectural and engineering designs to cover the cost of running water and sewer lines to the fairgrounds property.

They also voted to recommend $5,000 for the YMCA, $7,000 for the South Boston/Halifax County Museum, $10,000 for the Longwood Small Business Center, $3,200 for dues for the Chamber of Commerce and $3,930 for the Roanoke River Basin Association. They also recommended that the County pay $1,950 to Roanoke River Rails to Trails. All of the above agencies and departments had been earlier recommended to receive no financial support from the County in the coming fiscal year.

Looking at public safety as their first priority, finance members also voted to purchase a second set of personal protective equipment for each of the County’s volunteer fire departments at a cost of $26,000.

Funding for the recommended changes will come from the additional $593,000 that County Administrator Jim Halasz and County Finance Director Stephanie Jackson advised the Board of during its April meeting.

“This is no surplus money,” committee chairman Doug Bowman was quick to point out, “rather it is money that we did not realize would be available next year. It ($343,000) comes from a lowered rate in our estimated costs of the operation of the regional jail, as well as $70,000 less in estimated insurance costs. Those costs are increasing, but less than earlier estimated,” Bowman said. The remaining $180,000 will come from a hike in anticipated sales tax revenues.

Voting for the recommended changes were Bowman and J. T. Davis while William I. Fitzgerald opposed the recommendation. “I can’t vote for any additional funding for the schools,” Fitzgerald said, while agreeing to all the other recommendations. “We have already approved the school budget for the coming year and I’m not prepared to re-enter that.”

But Davis argued that the school system could lose about $$416,612 in state funding if they do not give their SOQ teachers a two percent raise. In order to get that state money, the locality needs to put up some $95,000 in matching funds. He pointed out that teachers have gotten no raises for the past five years and noted that two surrounding counties are giving their teachers raises next year. “If we short cut them, they’re going to leave and we will lose our best teachers,” Davis said.

Bowman pointed out he felt the school administration is working hard to cut costs and believes with the additional money they will be able to give the two percent raise to all their employees.

Earlier in their meeting finance panel members heard from Public Works Director Ricky Nelson who reported on the condition of his department’s vehicles, several of which have over 300,000 miles on them.

Nelson told members that he is running two trucks transporting trash seven days a week (on Saturdays and Sundays). A third truck he uses to move recycling to the Chesterfield site the county uses. Prior to an earlier accident, Nelson said he was running three trucks for trash. The replacement of that truck is still several weeks away, leaving him with no reserve. He said in years past it had been the county’s practice to replace vehicles on an eight year cycle. “But with the economy like it has been over the past several years, we’ve been trying to get by as best we could.” Now he feels the time has come that something must be done to replace the trucks. Finance members indicated they want to lease purchase one truck with payments to be spread out over four to five years.

In other action the committee recommended that the proposed increases on business licenses be cut by 50 percent. “We don’t want to seem insensitive to businesses,” Bowman said, noting that the reduction would mean $84,000 less in revenue for the coming year’s budget.

All of the changes recommended by the committee will be brought to the full Board of Supervisors for their action during their upcoming May 6 meeting.

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I say cut the school money. Save this money so we won't have a tax increase next year!


So let me get this correct. The board of supervisors has found money to spend that it did not realize it would have to spend. Perhaps Mr. Bowman should define what a surplus is as well as hypothesize on what would be done with a surplus of funds. I'm sure it would be given back to the rightful owners. Remember, reality as defined by a politician is not necessarily reality. Reality is what the politician says it is.

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