LAURINBURG — The city’s mayor pro tem brought the Scotland County Democratic Women up-to-date on Thursday with Laurinburg’s status quo as it begins budget considerations for the upcoming fiscal year.
The city council will hold its first budget work session at 7 p.m. on March 21. Last month, the city held a public input session attended by 41 city residents who registered their ideas for new and improved city services.
“That’s when we really start with the budget, and we use the citizen input session as a framework of priorities for the coming budget, things that we need to look at that we can realistically look at,” said Mary Jo Adams.
The city council’s progress in designing — and finding a construction firm to build — a new municipal building, which has caused some controversy, was not discussed in depth.
But the idea of a public recreation center, proposed by Mayor Matthew Block during his campaign as a higher priority, was brought up by retired elementary school principal Emma Dockery.
“I am concerned that we have a lot of young people who are just hanging out and they say, well there’s nowhere to go,” Dockery said.
“I don’t know what the answers are, but I would like to say to the city that we have got to save our young folks, and in order to do that we’ve got to have somewhere for them to go.”
Ensuing discussion included the creation of programs like Partners in Ministry, with which Dockery is involved, to engage youth outside of school, and the shortage of transportation options to existing activities.
Adams also presented the city’s current property tax, electric, and water and sewer rates relative to local competitors and other municipalities. For the last several years, the city’s ad valorem tax rate has remained 40 cents.
“That’s something we try to do because our county taxes are so high and because the economy has not been in such a good state in the past several year,” she said. “We try really hard to continue to provide services that our citizens need while keeping the tax rate low.”
Other topics covered included ongoing efforts to promote Laurinburg and Scotland County to other markets. As a N.C. Department of Commerce certified retirement community, the city is included in the department’s portfolio when marketing out of state. Episodes of “Carolina and Company Live” on WPDE featuring the area are currently airing on Wednesdays at noon.
Commissioned by the city, the Laurinburg-Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce, Scotland County Schools, Scotland Health Care System, and Scotland County Tourism Development Authority, the program promotes Scotland County’s small businesses, health care options, education systems, and local attractions to an audience estimated at more than 1 million in the region.
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.