County approves back tax repayment plan
Mary Katherine Murphy Staff Writer
LAURINBURG — The Scotland County Board of Commissioners approved additions to its policies dealing with tax exemption requests as well as past due property tax payments during its regular meeting on Monday.
“All of this is an effort that’s been made by the board just to increase revenue and to be fair to our taxpayers in collecting from all of our citizens,” said board Vice-Chairman Carol McCall.
The new policy implements a yearlong plan of minimum monthly payments on past due taxes for those delinquent for more than one year. The total amount will be determined on a case-by-case basis, equaling either the total taxes due or the greater of twice the current year’s taxes, the two highest years of taxes, or twice the average taxes due.
“I think the issue has been we’ve had folks that have gone multiple years without paying their full bill and we’re trying to make an effort to keep that from happening in the future,” said board Chairman Guy McCook.
The commissioners also approved a policy on late tax exemption requests, establishing “reasonable basis for late application.”
In other business, the commissioners heard the county’s quarterly financial report from Beth Hobbs, the county’s deputy finance officer. As of Nov. 30, the county has a total fund balance of $13.8 million, up from $5.6 million on June 30.
The ABC Board fund balance of $241,624 remained unchanged from the beginning of the fiscal year. The Scotland County Historic Properties Commission fund balance declined from $699,441 to $683,531, while the county’s net solid waste assets fell from a deficit of $1.57 million to $1.65 million.
Prior to its regular meeting, the commissioners met as the county water districts board, hearing a financial report for the year so far. As of Nov. 30, Water District I had net assets of $1.9 million with net assets of $1.2 million in the Water District II fund.
Since June 30, Water District I has brought in $275,943 in revenues with expenditures of $153,898. Water District II had $218,146 in revenues so far this year and $81,034 in expenses.
County Manager Kevin Patterson said that the 2012-2013 fiscal year was the first year where the county did not need to subsidize either district.
“We’re not really making any profit but we’re not losing any significant money,” he said.
McCook asked if the districts are making adequate progress toward establishing a reserve to cover future costs.
“I know at one point we had a negative cash flow and (the Local Government Commission was) looking at our ability to fund repairs and improvements down the road,” he said.
Patterson said that, at its current rates, the county’s water districts are unlikely to develop enough of a reserve — around $1.5 million — to satisfy the Local Government Commission on that point within the next few years. Currently, the total cash of both water districts is just over $1.1 million.
In his report, Patterson reported that the county is in the process of updating its land use plan, formulated in 1977 and not updated since. In the coming years the county is expected to receive assistance from the N.C. Department of Transportation in developing a comprehensive transportation plan, which requires that the county’s land use plan be less than five years old.
“There are no changes to policy or zoning to add to this update, but it will put in the current county demographics, mapping, utilities, and other items so that our policy will at least comply with what the requirements are and actually give us a good starting point for future planning and developing a longer land use plan,” Patterson said.
In other business, the commissioners:
— Approved a conditional use permit request by Cypress Creek Golf Links owner Keith Almond to place a home at 19400 Andrew Jackson Highway as a custodial residence for himself and his family as caretakers of the golf course.
— Tabled a public hearing on a conditional use permit application to construct a solar farm on Springs Mill Road in Laurel Hill for a later meeting due to lack of information.
— Appointed City Manager Charles Nichols to the Transportation Coordination Committee along with existing appointees Kevin Patterson, Roylin Hammond and Greg Icard.
— Approved a utility easement, requested by the city of Laurinburg, on a property at the intersection of North Main and Gill streets that was foreclosed on by the county.
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