Roseboro town commissioners met with the town clerk this past Thursday, May 9 to review the past year’s budget and begin work toward developing the 2013-14 fiscal plan
Town clerk Amanda Beatty began the budget workshop by saying that it was “just an informational meeting” and that the board would only consider the town’s expenditures at this time.
“At this point in the year, you are looking for 83 percent of budget to be expended,” noted Beatty to the board, reminding them that “the bottom line is the most important figure.”
As they reviewed each page of the town’s budget, the board and the clerk agreed that the professional services fund, which pays for the town’s attorney, Billie L. Poole, will need to be increased next year.
“We overspent this past year but we use him quite a bit, especially this year,” Beatty pointed out. “That shouldn’t be a problem next year though. Still, Mr. Poole’s prices are going up so I think we should up that $2,000.”
“Yes, let’s go ahead and do that,” agreed commissioner Alice Butler.
Commissioner Roland Hall suggested budgeting funds in order to take care of the old jail building which, according to Hall, has a leaky roof. “I would say budget $3,500 if we want to save it.”
The town board also decided to increase the funds designated for the care and upkeep of the library.
“The library requires maintainence and it is getting more expensive to maintain every year,” Beatty told the board, leading Butler to suggest raising the budgeted funds to $6,000.
With Roseboro fire chief Bobby Owen present, the board then discussed the town’s fire department budget.
“Do we need to establish an item for the helipad,” asked Hall.
“It wouldn’t hurt,” answered Owen, “for maintenance and such.”
Owen shared with the board that they also needed to plan on the fire department purchasing a new tanker.
“The one we have got is wore slam out. We’ve got to look a new one,” said Owen, adding that the body of the current one is badly rusted. “I think I can get one for $100,000 to $115,000 and that’s for a good used tanker.”
The oldest pumper that the fire department owns also needs refurbishing, said Owen, noting a cost of around $30,000.
Lastly, Owen requested that the town board consider purchasing a piece of property that is for sale behind the fire department so its bay area could be expanded.
“Slowly but surely we are out growing our bay area,” said the fire chief, “and they’re not making the trucks any shorter. If anything, they are making them longer now.”
Agreeing to keep Owen’s request in mind as they continue to plan for next year, the board began reviewing what the fire department has spent so far this year, noting that some of the line items were overspent.
“But he (Owen) hasn’t overspent his budget,” noted Beatty, looking at the bottom line.
Commissioner Richard Barefoot expressed concern over the fact that, although the bottom line is where it should be, the line items are either way under or way over what had been budgeted.
Beatty stressed that both the Fire Department and Public Works have to be more involved in the budget process in the coming year.
“I want them to tell us where they want the money taken from,” said Beatty, explaining that when she or Williams pays a bill for the Fire Department they do not always know which line item it should fall under if they are not told.
“He (Owen) has a budget. Hold him responsible to his budget,” countered Barefoot. “I don’t understand why he doesn’t have to fill out a document to give you that tells you all that you need to know.”
Beatty explained that whenever Owen needs to purchase something for the fire department he calls her or Williams for a purchase order but that sometimes it is still a guessing game as to where to pay the bill from.
Beatty and Owen agreed to work together to figure out what the requirements are for each line item. Barefoot added that he would also like to know that information.
The board then questioned who could call and request a purchase order, noting that only department heads should be allowed to do so.
“With the system we are doing, we are just setting ourselves up for overspending. There doesn’t seem to be any accountability,” said Barefoot.
“The tail is wagging the dog and we need to reverse it,” agreed Hall. “We need to set out policies and follow them.”
“That’s what we’re doing here, fixing it,” said Butler.
Before the meeting ended, Barefoot suggested that the commissioners meet again and “go line by line through the budget, seeing who got our money and what it was for.”
Barefoot acknowledged that he knew it would be a lot of work and asked the board for their input on the idea.
“I think on some (of the line items) it’s definitely important,” Butler agreed.
The board decided that they would like Beatty to pull the account histories for the line items that are currently over 90 percent expended for their review.
The next town meeting is scheduled for the second Tuesday in May, May 14, at 7 p.m.
Another budget workshop is scheduled for Thursday, May 23 at 5:15 p.m.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at email@example.com.