Supervisors hold hearings on budget, animal control and noise ordinances

Supervisors hold hearings on budget, animal control and noise ordinances

By MIKE WILLIAMS

The Patriot

The Pulaski County Board of Supervisors held six public hearings at their meeting on Monday night on topics ranging from the 2022-23 budget to noise and animal control ordinances.

County Administrator Jonathan Sweet said the board had met five times publicly on the budget, but there are still variables that staff can’t answer.

“Hopefully the state will resolve some of those variables with the adoption of their budget and what they are going to provide us on school funding, compensation board funding, mandates and unfunded mandates, etc.,” Sweet said.

Sweet said the “all in” budget for the county as it now stands is balanced at $156,502,724.

Sweet said for the first time, department heads, staff and Constitutional officers did a “zero based budget” to help combat the 8.5 percent inflation increase – a 41-year high for inflation.

“We had to do something different this year, and that was start from zero and make sure we didn’t have any increase in our operational budget,” Sweet explained to the supervisors.

That despite, he said, certain elements of the budget such as fuel and the costs of other goods increasing by more than 8.5 percent.

“Nevertheless, due to the hard work of our department heads, staff and Constitutional officers we were able to hold operational increases to less than 2 percent – 1.95 percent to be exact,” Sweet said.

“That hard work saved about $750,000 within our budget, and that savings allowed us to focus on our most valuable investments right now in providing services to our citizens, and that is taking care of our employees,” he continued, noting the savings allowed for additional resources to be directed at mitigating the effects of inflation on employees’ households.

Sweet said the theme of this year’s budget effort is “Preparing to become a next level rural community.” He said the budget mission was to put leadership and foresight into developing a balanced budget in an effort to protect and maintain a healthy fund balance (reserve), to effectively plan for and prioritize capital projects, to create and improve on existing county assets, to continue to comprehensively support public education, and to strategically invest in economic and community development as a way to enhance the quality of life, achieve the target of ’40 by 30’ and to prepare to become a next level rural community – all with the least impact to the taxpayers of Pulaski County.”

Following the hearing, the board deferred approving the budget until after June 1 when the General Assembly is expected to reconvene and approve the state budget.

Amended animal control and noise ordinances were approved by the board with no comment from citizens.

County Attorney Tim Kirtner explained the animal control ordinance amendments dealt first with correcting things that weren’t in compliance with current State Code. He said the previous ordinance had not been considered by the board since 2007 or 2008 and there have been some important changes in the code since then in terms of some definitions. The new ordinance is in compliance with code, Kirtner said.

Kirtner said there have been some changes in licensing fees, however, fees have not gone up under the new ordinance.

For example, he said the three-year license is now a lifetime license, and the cost has dropped from $27 to $25.

There are some changes concerning breeders, but Kirtner said those deal mainly with the welfare of the animals.

On the noise ordinance, Kirtner said the old ordinance was worded in a way that could prevent someone from operating a boat on Claytor Lake because it was overly broad in its wording. Changes in the new ordinance were made only in the definition portion.

Both ordinances were approved by the board.

In other action Monday:

-The board approved resolutions adding Beth Nelson Drive at Riverlawn Elementary School and Medal of Honor Way at Pulaski County Middle School to the state’s Secondary Road System.

-County employees will be given Friday, July 1 off to create a four-day weekend at July 4th.

The idea for the extra day off was conceived by Sweet and Draper Supervisor Dirk Compton as a way to give employees some additional “mental time off” in reward for the long hours worked during COVID.