Budget timeline set

County manager Ed Causey offers a timeline for the 2015-16 budget’s presentation, deliberation and adoption during Monday’s regular meeting.

Commissioner Harry Parker speaks during Monday’s meeting as fellow Commissioner Albert Kirby listens. The board will receive the proposed 2015-16 budget on June 1. A public hearing is set for two weeks later.

The Sampson Board of Commissioners will receive the county manager’s recommended 2015-16 budget on June 1 and hold one budget workshop prior to a mid-month public hearing, taking two dates at the end of June off the table in a move of optimism.

While additional workshop dates were suggested by staff, commissioners expressed confidence that one — sandwiched between the budget presentation and the hearing — would suffice.

At the conclusion of the board’s pre‐budget work session last month, it was requested by the board that staff provide a recommended schedule for the presentation, deliberation and adoption of the 2015‐16 budget. The proposed fiscal plan will be presented at the board’s regular meeting, as is tradition, on Monday, June 1. The public hearing will be held Monday, June 15.

“The board may schedule as many work sessions as it deems necessary to facilitate the adoption of the budget by June 30,” County manager Ed Causey said. “It is permissible to hold work sessions prior to the public hearing, and it is recommended that a portion of them be held after the hearing in case the board wishes to consider comments made at the hearing.”

Three dates were proposed, one prior to the hearing and two after it, however the board decided on one date for now. That budget session will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 10.

State law requires that at least 10 days must elapse between the presentation of the proposed budget and adoption of a budget ordinance. No date was set for the budget’s adoption, however Causey and commissioners shared optimism it would occur by Tuesday, June 30.

That has not happened the last three years.

County staff threw out Wednesday, June 17, and Monday, June 22, for possible additional budget workshops to be considered. “I have a feeling it will go so smooth we won’t need (extra dates),” Commissioner Clark Wooten said. “I’m cautiously optimistic.”

“I have seen past times that it has and I’ve seen times …” board chairman Billy Lockamy said, trailing off.

The county is facing a $3.5 million shortfall with which commissioners will have to deal during deliberations. Numerous issues have been discussed in broad terms — eliminating recreations, cutting department requests and reducing a large portion of a capital outlay request by Sampson Community College — but no actual cuts have been made as of yet.

Commissioner Albert Kirby said last month he did not believe deliberations would extend into July as they have the past three years, saying he did not feel a timely budget would be an issue this time around.

“As long as everybody is healthy, I don’t think there’s going to be a delay,” Kirby pointed out at April’s pre-budget session. “The last budgets we had snags on were because we had illnesses and we had four commissioners. As long as there are five of us here, I don’t think there’s going to be an issue with this taking long. The question will be whether or not you’re going to be able to live with your vote.”