Sewer project and budget to headline meeting

Once again the proposed NC 89 sewer project and County Manager Chris Knopf’s recommended budget will dominate the agenda for Monday evening’s meeting of the Surry County Board of Commissioners.

At a budget workshop Thursday night Commissioner Larry Phillips voiced his support of the sewer project that would extend sanitary sewer services along NC 89 to the I-77 and I-74 interchanges. Phillips conducted an impact study associated with the project.

The $961,630 in estimated sales tax revenues over the course of the next decade that could be created by new business development in the affected area, additional property tax revenues of $779,900 over the next ten years and the $251,855 in pledges from project proponents were enough for the project to garner Phillips’ vote to proceed.

Phillips and fellow commissioners Jimmy Miller and Paul Johnson were prepared to give the project the final go-ahead Thursday. However, they pushed the matter to tomorrow night’s meeting at the behest of County Attorney Ed Woltz.

On Thursday Woltz asked commissioners to delay the vote so that he could ensure that individuals either paid their pledges in cash or signed a promissory note that would legally bind them to paying annual installments on their individual pledges. Woltz told commissioners the paperwork should be in order by tomorrow’s meeting.

Following a few changes that amount to about $133,000 in additional school funding that commissioners suggested Thursday evening, the floor will be open for public comment on County Manager Chris Knopf’s proposed budget. Knopf’s recommended budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year appropriates about $1.3 million less than the current year’s operating budget.

The recommended budget appropriates additional dollars for another ambulance and full-time crew in the county’s Emergency Services Department and two narcotics detectives in the Sheriff’s Office.

Though a request for two quick response vehicles in Emergency Services and a DARE officer in the Sheriff’s Office are not funded in the proposed budget, Emergency Services Director John Shelton and Sheriff Graham Atkinson told commissioners they were “ok” with Knopf’s recommended budget.

The budget also includes the county’s first increase in landfill fees since 2001 at the request of Public Works Director Dennis Bledsoe. Thursday Bledsoe told commissioners that even with the fees it would take a few years to get his landfill fund back to a “comfortable balance,” after years of subsidizing losses in the department.

Additionally, the recommended budget makes the necessary appropriation to give all county employees a 1.5 percent cost of living wage increase.

Also on Monday evening’s agenda are public hearings for private road naming and rezoning at 226 NC 268. The meeting is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Surry County Government Center in Dobson.

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