County manager balances budget

The Moore County Board of Commissioners approved the use of the $10,000,000 American Rescue Plan Act 2021 Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds at its April 19 meeting. Approved uses will be analyzed for government compliance by an outside accountant.

Finance Director Caroline Xiong reviewed the American Rescue Plan Act 2021 funds and said the county had received some of the awarded $19,594,757. The county will receive the balance in May.

Funds must be allocated for use by Dec. 31, 2024, and spent by Dec. 31, 2026.

Funds may be used for salaries and fringe benefits, capital and operating purchases, professional services and capital projects.

The approved uses for the recovery funds may be read here. 

In other business, the board approved the agreement and contract with McGill Associates for Professional Services for the Vass Phase 2 Wastewater Collection System Expansion project for $19,400 to service 96 homes.

The homes are for a proposed development named Badger’s Court, by land developer Acscot Corporation, LLC, and the developer will pay the $19,400.

Also, the board heard the budget request for Moore County Schools.

School board member Robert Levy said the budget was unanimously approved, emphasizing the school board’s unity, while recognizing the board had differences on other topics.

Levy said the critical reading needs will be met with their budget.

School board member David Hensley said the Connect! Virtual Academy will save taxpayers $35 million by not constructing a new building. Read about the online school here. 

Hensley said the largest increase in the budget is for classified staff who were neglected for years, and it was time to give their fellow team members adequate pay.

“It adds more teachers to reduce class, and it is absolutely essential to improve our education,” Hensley said about the budget.

Andrew Cox, the executive officer for budget and finance, reviewed the budget request for the 2022-23 school year. He told commissioners that he wanted to be careful about not using nonrecurring funds, like COVID-19 relief funding called Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds (ESSR), for recurring expenses after a commissioner wanted to know if they could reduce the $7.7 million increase by using the relief funding.

The board heard Solid Waste Director David Lambert’s presentation. He said they have two streams of recycling. Trucks pick up waste, and residents drop off waste. Staffed sites ensure clean sites.

“If we bring material, and there is glass in it, it is sixty-dollars a ton,” Lambert said about the processing fee and said it was free without glass.

Municipalities pay $180,000 for processing, and without changes to the contract, the fees will increase to $235,000. The proposed change is for $100 for processing per ton and to share proceeds with the processor to continue services.

The sheriff’s department was approved for a grant from the N.C. Department of Public Safety for $84,270. The funds are for carrying out any duties to preserve the law.

The health department budget will see an increase of $272,918. The funds were awarded through the Division of Public Health, Communicable Disease Branch, to carry out COVID-19 pandemic duties, including surveillance, epidemiology, laboratory capacity, infection control, mitigation, communications, and other preparedness and response activities.

The list showing where the funds will be used indicates that $136,459 will be used for carrying out the above pandemic duties.

The remaining funds are allocated for employee salaries related to pandemic duties.

Sandhills Center Director Victoria Whitt presented a request for county funding support. She said she is requesting the same amount of $197,021 she has requested for “many, many years.” She said the reason the amount has not increased over the years is because of Medicaid.

Whitt said they provide crisis services in schools and the detention center. They have trained 360 Moore County officers in crisis training, which consists of a 40-hour class.

During the public hearing, the board of commissioners approved a rezoning request for Cellco Partnership with Verizon Wireless to build a 195-foot monopole tower on a .23-acre portion of a 677.65-acre parcel on Beulah Hill Church Road. The zoning was changed from residential agricultural to residential agricultural conditional.

The board approved a quasi-judicial hearing for a special use permit for Changing Destinies Ministry, a faith-based organization, to operate a group care facility for up to seven victims of human trafficking on 13.13 acres at 1813 Samarcand Road in Biscoe.

The property was zoned B1, neighborhood business.

The property is surrounded by residential agricultural and industrial.

The inpatient facility provides supervision, medical care, behavioral and rehabilitation services, counseling, and may include outpatient follow-up care for juveniles or adults including, but not limited to, the mental or physically disabled, runaways, persons addicted to drugs, children undergoing rehabilitation or extended care, ex-convicts, halfway/transitional houses, boarding homes for children, psychiatric facilities, and drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities.

Moore County Planning and Inspections Director Debra Ensminger said the planning department recommended approval.

The licensed real estate spokesperson to speak about the facility affecting property values during the hearing was not present.

~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Journalist Stephanie M. Sellers. Contact her at [email protected].

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