Bladenboro wrestling with budget numbers

BLADENBORO — Board members with the Bladenboro Town Council were seeing dollar signs Monday when they took on a discussion about the 2015-16 fiscal year budget, and those dollar signs were turning a crimson red.

“We had really hoped to keep the same tax rate, but the projected numbers we got from the revaluation process are really pretty bad,” said Mayor Rufus Duckworth.

He said the board was told that the latest projection was for the town to lose about $6 million dollars off its tax base — from $70.4 million to about $64.5 million.

“That kind of loss, which is something like 8 or 9 percent in little ol’ Bladenboro, is just devastating,” Duckworth said. “Those numbers need to get back closer to the taxpayers’ side if we’re going to be able to pass a decent budget.”

The board voted Monday to suspend the budget discussions until next week. They will reopen the issue on Monday at 7 p.m.

“And if things don’t look any better then, we’ll do it again the following Monday,” Duckworth said. “But I know most everyone is looking at the very same kind of challenges, especially the county.”

In other business:

— The board gave its approval for bids on purchases of items at McLean Park that will satisfy the grant requirements. Those items include things like picnic tables, bleachers and a scoreboard.

— The board voted not to OK the annual request from NCDOT to close the railroad crossing at Pine Ridge.

— The board approved the expansion of the 20-mile radius to 30 miles for police officers to take their patrol cars home when not on duty.

— The board adopted the Bladen/Columbus Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan.

— The board OK’d an ordinance that amended the town’s minimum housing standards, which Duckworth said would continue to be “a work in progress.”

W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.