If you depend on The Southern Pines Pilot to keep you informed on Moore County government, you MIGHT think commissioner Tim Lea is the ONLY one who ever shows up at board meetings, and that Bojangles is the most pressing issue facing Moore County.
The sycophantic “All-Tim, All-The-Time” coverage by The Pilot has more than a few folks in Carthage peeved. A couple of our readers — who also happen to be people in influence in Moore county government — cobbled together a quick list of significant items accomplished by the board of commissioners that have been — basically — ignored by The Pilot in favor of Tim and Bojangles:
- The tax rate has held steady. It is actually 1.9 cents LOWER than it was in January 2009.
- Expenditures have been held to $84 million for the second year in a row. The General Fund was at nearly $100 million in January 2009.
- The new detention and public safety complex has been fully staffed and seven new EMTs have been hired without increasing the overall county government personnel count of 619. In 2009, county government had 655 employees, but that figure has been scaled back by attrition.
- Provided county employees with a 1.5 percent pay increase while maintaining last year’s overall spending levels.
- Paid for the unfunded FCC mandate that all emergency services communications be narrow-banded. Cost the county just under $5 million. FULLY paid for in THIS budget.
- Paid off nearly EIGHT MILLION DOLLARS in debt EARLY ($6 million this year alone) saving taxpayers $2 million in interest payments over the next seven years.
- Set aside $2 million to renovate existing court facilities to expand the life of the current building.
- Increased the health insurance contribution per county employee to keep the insurance fund solvent.
I caught up with commissioner Nick Picerno, who is up for reelection in November, to talk about a few of these things:
“The pay raise for county employees was the right thing to do. We are asking them to do more with fewer people. It’s only fair to compensate these folks accordingly. We did it without growing the budget or putting any additional burden on the taxpayers.
I am also quite proud of how we handled the staffing of the public safety and detention center. If we had followed the Harnett County model — like SOME have suggested — it would have forced us to hire TWENTY-SIX new employees, as opposed to the EIGHT additional bodies we needed for this route. Taking the Harnett County route would have hit the taxpayers up for more than a million dollars per year in extra employee costs.
But facts are inconvenient things. Some folks want to go on and on about how Harnett County was right and we were wrong. The facts and figures show that the way county government is proceeding on this detention center project costs the taxpayers of Moore County a lot less.”