County to review finances at retreat

By Mary Katherine Murphy - [email protected]

LAURINBURG — Meeting for the first time in 2016 as the Water Districts Board on Monday. the Scotland County Board of Commissioners deferred the question of how to handle the process of repainting the county’s water towers to its capital committee.

“Obviously when you’re painting the water tower, because this will be an inside and outside repaint, the water towers will have to be taken offline for a period of time,” said County Manager Kevin Patterson.

The committee will also return to the board with a recommendation regarding whether or not to commission a four-coat paint job with a zinc oxide primer, increasing both the estimated lifespan and cost by 50 percent.

According to county finance officer Beth Hobbs, as of Nov. 30 the water districts had collected $251,579 in revenues over expenditures. The county obtains water from both the Laurinburg-Maxton Airport and the city of Laurinburg, and contracts with the city for system maintenance.

“Our agreements basically say we will pay the best in-district commercial rate that they have, so we are paying the lowest rate on the city of Laurinburg’s fee scale as well as at Laurinburg-Maxton Airport,” said Patterson.

During the board’s regular business meeting, Lumber River Council of Governments representative Adrian Lowery briefed the commissioners on the end of the state’s Community Development Block Grant scattered site housing program. One of 33 counties to receive a grant in 2011, Scotland’s program included $400,000 to relocate low-income homeowners living in dilapidated homes.

“Unfortunately the CDBG scattered site program has been terminated by the state of North Carolina,” said Lowery. “There is no more money that is a part of that program. Those monies have been moved to the infrastructure program, and so counties, cities, or municipalities can apply for those funds as far as water and sewer.”

The council of governments is currently working to identify units for the Single-Family Rehab Program administered through the N.C. Housing Finance Agency. In Scotland County, $170,000 is available to use on three homes. Lowery said that brick homes built in the 1970s and early 1980s are likely candidates.

“We’re looking for moderately deteriorated units that we can go in and fix up energy-wise,” he said.

In other business, the board scheduled its mid-year retreat for 1 p.m. on Feb. 17 at the Emergency Operations Center on West Boulevard. Retreat business will include a mid-year financial review, capital plan review, solid waste operations review, and commissioners’ budgetary goals. On Monday the board also slated discussion of an employee substance abuse policy and board fund balance policy for that meeting.

“I also expect to have information back from our solid waste engineer about potential outcomes for solid waste operations for the board to have time to receive that information at the retreat, but then make decisions over the next several months during the budget program to determine the long-term plans for our solid waste operations,” said Patterson.

During the scheduled public comment period, Walter Rogers requested that those living outside of municipal limits qualify for lower solid waste availability fee if they document their trash removal by a private company. When implemented last year, the availability fee was assessed at $55 per property in Laurinburg, Wagram, Gibson, and East Laurinburg and $85 per property in unincorporated areas.

Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.

By Mary Katherine Murphy

[email protected]

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