Edgecombe looks for financial relief

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Edgecombe County residents will have a chance to make their voices heard next week on the county’s spending plan for 2014-15. It’s hard to think of a bigger budget dilemma than the one facing Edgecombe County right now.

As Telegram staff writer Darla Slipke has reported, County Manager Lorenzo Carmon first presented the Board of Commissioners with a budget proposal that included a 6 cent property tax rate increase. That would have taken Edgecombe’s property tax rate from 86 cents per $100 valuation – already one of the highest in the state – to 92 cents per $100 valuation.

County commissioners rejected that plan, emphatically saying that a tax hike is not the answer.

And so the alternative – a budget that would eliminate 34 positions in the county government work force and cut other expenses by about $1.1 million.

While our more conservative friends likely will applaud the reduction of government spending, the proposed cuts are likely to have a very real impact on public schools, social services and Edgecombe Community College.

That’s why it’s important for county residents to turn out in force for the public hearing on the budget at 7 p.m. Monday. County commissioners are expected to vote on the plan after hearing from their constituents.

Edgecombe County desperately needs financial relief, both now and in the future. Some commissioners already have expressed worries that property values will decline, leading to a loss of revenue.

Solid answers to the dilemma facing the county will no doubt be welcomed.


Commissioners need a Plan

No, a tax hike is not the answer which many think should be the first solution. This conservative friend applauds the reduction of government spending since I don't think Edgecombe County has done enough to address the continued decline in revenue. Yes, revenue has declined over the years but our County leadership has seen this trend continue which now makes it reality. Residents spoke out several years ago over the plans to buy the vacant Embarq building in downtown Tarboro. County leadership suggested there would be a boom in tax revenue from all the traffic in downtown Tarboro but has this boom in tax revenue materialized? The only thing we got from this is an increased debt burden that no one wants to talk about. We should fund public education since that is the only way our county will prosper. Yet, ECPS, which has lost over 700 students the past several years has done nothing to address an under utiized North Edgecombe High School. Now is the time to close it and use those resources elsewhere. County leadership fails to address the duplication of services in our county. Perhaps now is the time to address the duplication of services. Do we need DSS offices in Tarboro and Rocky Mount? Do we need ECC campuses in both Tarboro and Rocky Mount? The tax hike in itself was minimal however when you combine it with rising fuel and grocery prices not to mention high utility rates it does make a difference. Especially in a County whose population is declining and somewhat older. Now is a time for hard choices. Now is a time for our County leadership to develop a plan that puts our county on sound financial position. Yes, services will have to be eliminated and we can live with that, people may lose their jobs but to continue to ask hard pressed citizens to give more make no sense.

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