Last updated: December 03. 2013 8:38AM - 980 Views
Mary Katherine Murphy Staff Writer

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LAURINBURG — The Scotland County Board of Commissioners on Monday approved a payment scheme for longtime employees in the form of a one-time payment this month.

Last month, the commissioners discussed an initial proposal by the board policy committee to issue longevity payments to those county employees with five years of service or more. At that meeting, the board requested that the policy committee reevaluate the proposal due to confusion regarding the payments’ role as a longevity reward versus an end-of-year bonus for all employees.

During Monday’s meeting, vice-chair Carol McCall once again presented the initial proposal to award longevity payments on a sliding scale from $150 to those employed from five to nine years to $525 to employees serving 25 years or more. She clarified that the $30,000 originally budgeted was intended to be directed to longevity payments.

The board approved the proposal by a vote of four to two, with commissioners John Cooley and Bob Davis voting against — Davis having spoken against spending more than the $30,000 budgeted.

“I think that longevity is important, but so is encouragement,” said Cooley. “I recognize the difference between someone who has been here nine and a half years and someone who has been here nine and a half months, but zero is pretty rough.”

The plan approved will cost the county $52,630.74, with the additional funds supplied from lapsed salaries.

“I think that the folks who have been here the longest and the ones who have been through the economic downturn and the reduction in salary are the ones that really stayed loyal to us during a difficult time,” said Commissioner Whit Gibson.

At the beginning of the meeting, the commissioners unanimously reelected Guy McCook to serve as chairman and McCall to serve as vice-chair.

The commissioners tabled until January a vote on new policies proposed to deal with payment of delinquent property taxes and county fees.

As proposed, the county would implement a payment plan for property taxes delinquent for more than a year so that either the greatest of twice the current year’s taxes, the two highest years of taxes, twice the average taxes due, or the total amount of taxes would be repaid within 24 months.

“If you’re more than one year delinquent, the concept would be to develop a plan that would at least pay all delinquent taxes in a 24-month period,” said County Manager Kevin Patterson.

For those owing delinquent fees to the county, an installment plan no longer than six months would be made in writing, with payments of at least $25 per month. The county currently has no written policy regarding restitution of delinquent taxes.

“It would be beneficial for it to be clear — and this provides that — that this is the system, follow it, this is the result,” said Cooley. “With a written plan, you can be fair to everyone and everyone is treated the same; that’s important.”

The commissioners also authorized the Lumber River Council of Governments to apply for $170,000 in Single Family Rehabilitation grants to restore moderately debilitated homes for low-income homeowners.

The program began in 2011 in Scotland County, and has since spent $642,000, with five homes completed and three currently in progress. With the additional $170,000, Lumber River Council of Governments Housing Coordinator Adrian Lowery said that the program is expected to remodel a total of 12 homes in Scotland County.

The commissioners approved a match of $10,000 to the Lumber River Council of Governments: $5,000 for program hard costs and $5,000 for administration.

In other business:

— The commissioners reappointed Dee Hammond as ABC Board chair for 2014, appointed Lorraine Prince to a three — year term on the Aging Advisory Council and Daniel Dockery to a three year term on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

— The commissioners heard from United Way campaign chair Margaret Dickerson on the organization’s current fundraising campaign, which will run through this month.

— Larry Johnson, Scotland County Schools assistant superintendent of auxiliary services, briefed the commissioners on the completion of security walls on the campuses of Shaw Academy, I. Ellis Johnson Elementary School, Scotland High School, and North Laurinburg Elementary School.

— The commissioners heard from Richmond Community College President Dale McInnis on developments at the school, which serves 785 Scotland County residents in degree programs.

— Barbie Hunt, of the Robeson County Community Development Corporation, presented the commissioners with the N.C. Foreclosure Prevention Fund services available to Scotland County residents who qualify for mortgage assistance. Funds remain available to provide interest-free loans to 6,000 area families.

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