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Bladenboro Town Board faces changes to personnel and budget

By: Charlotte Smith

There are changes coming in Bladenboro according to the Town Board meeting last night, Monday, June 15th. Some decisions were made and others were tabled until a later meeting.

The board discussed changes to the town’s personnel due to Brittany Allen, the town’s current Utility Clerk, turning in her resignation. According to Mayor Rufus Duckworth, Melanie Hester, Town Administrator and Pamela Bowen, Town Clerk said they wanted to take the opportunity to get their old positions back since Allen was turning in her resignation, it seemed the perfect opportunity.

The plan now, according to the Mayor, is for Pamela to go back to the position of Utility Clerk and Melanie will return to the position of Town Clerk after a new Town Administrator is in position. The board approved a motion to start advertising for a new Town Administrator. Mayor Duckworth said, “We’ve got a good staff and we are very appreciative they let us know they would like their old positions back. We want our staff members to be happy.”

When asked if Melanie, Town Administrator, would be leaving her position right away, the Mayor said, “Melanie has stepped up to help us when we really needed it. She loves Bladenboro and Bladenboro loves her. Melanie has made it clear she has no time constraints. She will continue working as the administrator until we find someone to fill the position.”

According to Melanie the town was notified property values in Bladenboro have decreased nearly $6 million from early estimates following the revaluation. The board had discussed a budget based on 2014 values from 70,426,459. The latest values have dropped to $64,582,113. The drop in values, based on a revenue neutral tax rate, will increase the new tax rate from the proposed .59 cents to .643.

If the increase in taxes went to .643 cents the board has discussed using some of the funds generated for a 2% raise for all town employees, $3,405 for GPS and $4,802 for cameras for the Police Department and $8,000 for a lawn mower.
Board member Bill Benson said, “ Let’s not forget that the town’s insurance went up 29% last year and the town did not pass that increase on to the employees.

They didn’t see it on their pay checks, but they did get to keep that 29% the insurance went up.” He continued with concerns with the way the town’s lawn mower has been used. He said, “Our town employees need to use common sense when they use the lawn mower too.”

Board member Sarah Benson said, “I believe the town employees need a raise. Times are hard.” Board member Terry Nance agreed.

Richard Hewitt a community member in attendance said he too had concerns about how the town’s equipment is being used. He also said, “I understand these people need a raise, but when you’re taking the city cars and taking them home, that is a raise because you don’t have to pay for that car or the gas.”

Charles Benton said he felt the town employees should receive a raise and asked why the town hasn’t applied for more grants. Don White, chair of “Boost the Boro”, said, “With the 5.8 million tax cut, that equates to $2800 per property. This may be the perfect opportunity to raise the taxes. If you raise a tax now since the taxes have been cut, then you may capture new revenue.”

Bill Benson made a motion to table the decision until next Monday, June 22nd. The motion passed. The decision about increasing the taxes will not be made until next Monday.

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