McMillen: Vance Co. Board Begins 2019-2020 Budget Preparations

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County Manager Jordan McMillen was on Monday’s edition of WIZS’ Town Talk program to discuss the Vance County Board of Commissioners’ recent two-day planning retreat, held for 2019-2020 fiscal year budget preparation purposes.

According to McMillen, day one of the retreat included presentations by various county department heads, a change from previous years that led to greater clarity on the challenges and needs of each area.

“At this point in the budget process, which is really just beginning, we have a good handle on the needs for the upcoming year, primarily because of that first day of the retreat,” said McMillen.

Many of those needs center around one of the largest budget costs – public safety. With a new sheriff at the helm, McMillen expects one of the requests put forth to the Board this year to include the addition of several staff positions with the Vance County Sheriff’s Office.

Additional big-budget items, such as possible EMS schedule changes and on-going fire restructuring talk also weighed heavy on the discussion.

Part of the EMS restructuring includes talk of transitioning EMS personnel to a 24/72 schedule where a responder works a 24-hour shift, followed by three days off, in a rotation that would see all shifts covered.

Transitioning to this schedule would require the addition of nine new EMS positions at a cost of approximately half-a-million dollars, bringing McMillen back to the “challenges” part of the equation – money.

“Our main sources of revenue – sales and property tax – have minor growth each year,” McMillen said. “We may have $300,000 – $500,000 additional each year, which sounds like a lot, but when you start to look at some of the cost items and expenditures, they take that amount up pretty quickly.”

When questioned on the reported $650,000 in additional revenue available from the roll-off courthouse and jail renovation expenses, McMillen said the money will more than likely be put back into capital expenditures.

“The County does have an aggressive capital improvement plan that has funded projects such as roof replacements and met various needs neglected during the recession years,” said McMillen. “I don’t know that it’s going to help us on the operational side of the budget; we may be able to use some of it.”

At the retreat, McMillen said he cautioned commissioners on the potential perils of juggling so many major projects at the same time.

“I recall, a few years ago, we would focus on one large project at a time. Now we are really stretching and getting into a lot of projects at one time. I think the message for the upcoming budget year is that we need to be careful with that.”

To help narrow their focus, the Board established six goals for the 2019-2020 fiscal year:

  • Move the Vance County Department of Social Services to the former Eaton Johnson Middle School building
  • Provide funding and support to improve fire response county-wide
  • Support existing businesses and market available buildings
  • Improve broadband internet access throughout the county
  • Address littering/trash issues and increase clean-up efforts
  • Address public health issues, particularly substance use and mental health disorders

The first of these goals, moving DSS into the former Eaton Johnson Middle School building located at 500 N. Beckford Drive, is a priority for the Board.

Currently owned by Vance County Schools, McMillen said the Board “hopes to move forward, expeditiously, with acquiring, designing and renovating the former school to include the movement of DSS, and possibly the Senior Center and other departments as space would allow.”

These goals will go before the Vance County Board of Commissioners for approval at their monthly meeting this evening.

To hear the interview with Jordan McMillen in its entirety, please click here.

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