Budgets on the minds of commissioners at Feb. 17 meeting

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By Brian Slattery

Brunswick County commissioners are planning for a one-day budget retreat at the county complex March 6.

The budget retreat, which in past years has included presentations from every county department head on projects in need of funding for the upcoming year, could be restricted to a one-day review of departments by County Manager Ann Hardy, Deputy County Manager Steve Stone and Health and Human Services Director David Stanley.

The Brunswick County Board of Education, Brunswick Community College, Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office and the Register of Deeds would also make individual budget presentations.

Commissioners will decide at the Feb. 17 regular board meeting if they want just an overview of the departments or the individual reports they have received in the past.

“I like all the department heads in here. It used to take two days but we received a good working knowledge (of the departments),” Commissioner Marty Cooke said.

“That’s my preference. We have a large budget. We have a large county. There’s a lot going on.”

Commissioner Scott Phillips countered that the board has the administrators to make sure the department heads are doing what they are supposed to.

“I’m relying on the (administrators) to take care of it,” Phillips said.

If the board agrees to a one-day retreat, it will run from 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. in the commissioners’ meeting room.

Commissioners will also discuss spending money at the Feb. 17 meeting.

The board members will consider spending $16,500 to continue paying for the Animal Services Outreach Coordinator for the rest of the 2013-14 fiscal year.

The cost would cover the part-time position for six months at $15,000 plus benefits.

Hardy said in the past year animal services has increased adoptions from 17 percent to 35 percent.

Commissioner Frank Williams asked for an estimate of how many hours the coordinator works per week to determine the cost.

The board will also look at allocating an additional $8,000 to the clerk of court office for improvements to the Brunswick County Courthouse.

The Clerk of Court office already has about $50,000 included in the current budget to replace chairs and repair carpeting.

They have planned to spend $22,000 to replace 70 chairs throughout the courthouse building.

But the clerk’s office has requested the additional money to purchase a $32,000 video first-appearance system.

Board members decided to discuss the costs further at the next meeting to receive more information on the most pressing needs in the courthouse.

Brian Slattery is a staff writer for The Brunswick Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or bslattery@brunswickbeacon.com.