5/4/2020 10:07:00 PM Commissioners Hold Two Meetings
Commissioner Bud Cesena
Wayne Howard Staff Writer
Lincoln County Commissioners held two meetings Monday (May 4th). The first was a special Budget Workshop session; the second was the regular first Monday meeting.
The 4 PM Budget Workshop was in large part Commissioners deciding which county expenditures might be cut for next year. County Manager Kelly Atkins had already made some adjustments to the requested amounts from various departments, but Commissioners had the opportunity to make further cuts if they saw fit.
While Monday's session was a workshop and not a final budget discussion, several things appeared likely from the meeting: County employees won't be getting a raise in July, but they may--if the economy allows it--next January; the County will proceed with a pay study that could raise some salaries, similar to one conducted three years ago; the tax rate won't change for fiscal 2021; and for the first time since 2015 Lincoln County Schools will get less money than they did the previous year.
At a joint meeting in early March, Supt. Dr. Lory Morrow elaborated on a request from the schools for a $4.4 million increase for the coming year. The schools requested $26.6 million--an increase of 13.4%. They also asked for a special allocation of $800,000 for HVAC and IT needs.
Atkins pared the request to a proposed $21.9 million--a decrease of 5%. Classroom teachers will, however, get a raise in their local supplement. Commissioners spoke unanimously in favor of providing $840,000 for a 2% increase in the supplement for classroom teachers only.
Commissioner Bud Cesena pushed for the raise for teachers. "We have to be competitive," he said. "We can't compete with Mecklenburg County, but then, most don't want to go there; but we do have to compete with Catawba, Cleveland and Gaston."
Commissioner Anita McCall praised the teachers, adding "they've gone from teaching in the classroom to teaching online. They've had to change their job completely, and they've done it very well."
Atkins will take the information from today's special session and create an updated budget proposal which Commissioners will review at their May 18th meeting.
In their regular session, Commissioners approved the contract for the new Lincoln County Courthouse. The low bid of $31.3 million was submitted by Barnhill Contracting Company of Hickory. It was one of five bids received, all of them much lower than the original projected price for the project. If all goes as planned, the new courthouse behind the Health Dept. off Gamble Drive will be ready for use by early 2022.
Commissioners met as usual in their meeting room at the County Administration Bldg. on Generals Blvd. They were seated so that none was as close as the suggested six feet separation. Chairs for County employees and others attending the meeting were also spaced so that none were seated close to each other.
Lincolnton's City Council will hold a 'virtual' meeting this Thursday. The meeting will be conducted electronically via WebEx.
Posted: Tuesday, May 5, 2020
Article comment by:
While Wayne is correct that County Employees will not get a raise in July, they will get a raise in January. Its also true that they may get the raise sooner if the sales tax numbers are better than expected. This has been a very difficult budget season and as the true numbers come in we will make adjustments.