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McDowell County Commissioners adopt budget. Cut all money to McDowell Mission Ministries.

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McDowell County Commissioners adopt budget for 2022-2023

On Monday, the McDowell County Board of Commissioners held a meeting at the County Administration Building on North Main Street and adopted the 2022-2023 budget. Before doing that, they heard a report from intern Maeva Hassani, who is a Lead for North Carolina (LFNC) Fellow. She was an intern with McDowell County this past year and worked on the county’s social media policy.

On Monday, the McDowell County Board of Commissioners adopted a $54.4 million budget for fiscal year 2022-23 that doesn’t call for an increase in the county property tax rate.

As part of their action, the commissioners decided to take away the county funding for McDowell Mission Ministries and spread it to other organizations.

Under the new budget, McDowell’s property tax rate will stay at 57.75 cents per $100 valuation, the same as last year’s. Counties like McDowell operate on a fiscal year that begins on July 1 and ends on June 30. Local governments have to adopt a budget for the next fiscal year by June 30.

The adopted county budget for next fiscal year is $54,425,329, which is $4,696,593 more than the 2021-22 budget of $49,728,636 or 9.44% greater.

Before adopting the budget, the commissioners made some changes to the county funding going to several nonprofit organizations. These include the Clerk of Court’s office, the volunteer fire departments, New HOPE of McDowell, the N.C. Forest Service, the Health Coalition, Vaya Health, the McDowell Chamber of Commerce, the medical examiner, Historic Carson House, McDowell Mission Ministries, the TDA, the Rescue Squad, MACA, the Watershed Commission, Freedom Life Ministries and others.

On Monday, the commissioners decided to take away county money that goes to McDowell Mission Ministries.

Last week, commissioners held a public hearing about the 2022-23 budget. After the hearing was closed, Vice Chairman David Walker said he wanted to change the amount that the county provides to McDowell Mission Ministries. The local homeless shelter is one of the many organizations and groups that receive county funding. Previously, McDowell Mission Ministries got $17,500 a year from the county.

Walker said last week he wanted to change that amount to $5,000, which would match what the city of Marion provides to the mission. The remaining $12,500 would be distributed to the Lake James Environmental Association’s Mill Creek project (which would get $1,000), Freedom Life Ministries and the McDowell Pregnancy Care Center (which would get $6,500).

But on Monday, the commissioners decided to change the funding even further. They agreed to still give the LJEA $1,000 but decided to increase the county’s funding to Freedom Life Ministries to $17,500 and increase the county’s funding to the McDowell Pregnancy Care Center to $9,000. This eliminates the $5,000 of county that would have gone to McDowell Mission Ministries.

Before taking this action, county officials heard from Commissioner Chris Allison, who sits on the mission’s board. He said McDowell Mission Ministries could change its name perhaps by this week. He added the bylaws have been rewritten by people from Burke County and with no input from people from McDowell.

The new board for the local homeless shelter will have seven members from McDowell and six from Burke.

Another change proposed for the 2022-23 budget concerned the funding for the school system. County Manager Ashley Wooten said the $100,000 for the One to One program (which provides laptops for students) should be moved to the current expense part of the budget. That is because the school system can get funding for the laptops from other sources, he added.

After a discussion, the commissioners voted unanimously to adopt the budget for fiscal year 2022-23 with those changes in the amounts of county funding. As part of adopting the budget, the commissioners approved two positions for the Sheriff’s Office (a major and a public information officer/evidence custodian). They also approved the tax rates for the fire districts in McDowell.

At a previous meeting, the commissioners voted to approve increases for several fire departments. On Monday, they approved lowering the rate for the Longtown District from 15 cents to 12 cents in order to be consistent with the rate the Burke County residents are changed for the benefit of that fire department.

Furthermore, Wooten told the commissioners that the UNC School of Government is notifying counties they should have a contract with any nonprofit groups and organizations that get county funding. This contract would lay out the statutory authorities and obligations that come with public money.

In other business on Monday, the McDowell County Board of Commissioners:

Heard an update about the Department of Social Services from Director Lisa Sprouse

Heard a presentation from Recreation Director Chad Marsh

Heard a report from intern Maeva Hassani, who is a Lead for North Carolina (LFNC) Fellow. She was an intern with McDowell County this past year and worked on the county’s social media policy.

Approved hiring the consulting firm of WithersRavenel to perform a Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) about the water line extension possibilities for the area around West Marion Elementary School. The report would be used to help seek funding for water line extensions to the area.

Approved a sewer project that will serve county-owned property on College Drive as well as the Universal Advanced Manufacturing Center building.

Approved providing a local match for a water and sewer grant to provide utilities to a building site in the Industrial Park.

Authorized the inclusion of the public shooting range property in a Duke Energy Site Readiness program to study if any part of the property can be used for development.

Voted to approve Commissioner Brenda Vaughn to serve a four-year term on the board of trustees of McDowell Technical Community College and Recreation Director Chad Marsh to serve a two-year term on the MTCC board. Vaughn abstained from voting on these items.

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