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Elizabethtown Commissioners hold Budget Retreat

Elizabethtown City Council held their annual Budget Retreat Thursday as they begin preparation for the upcoming FY 2015-16 budget.  The retreat was held at Vineyard Golf Course at White Lake in the Clubhouse.
The process began with a round table discussion that included representatives of other agencies in the county.  Included was Greg Martin, Bladen County manager; Dr. Bill Findt, President of Bladen Community College; Chuck Heustess, Bladen County EDC; Ms. Tanya Head and Ms. Valerie Newton representing Bladen County Schools and Mac Campbell, Jr. representing Bladen Agri-Industrial, in addition to the Town Board, Mayor Sylvia Campbell and Eddie Madden, Town Manager.
The various agencies spoke about things that thought were going well in their agency, and not so good, ex. state funding for the Boards of Education and Colleges.  The group spoke about issues that they were already collaborating on and how they could do a better job, with less money and more demands for services.  Time expire before the complete agenda could be discussed, however those in attendance were pleased with the communication and suggested more such meetings.  Sheriff Jim McVicker was invited but had a prior commitment.
The discussion was promoted by Mayor Campbell and City Manager Eddie Madden.  Madden will move forward with a plan to hold another meeting in the near future.
Council then turned to the business of the Town of Elizabethtown.
Bladen County Tax Administrator Chris Ellis shared his thoughts on the recent revaluation and where the tax office was in the process.
Ellis told the board the county consisted of about 33,000 parcels of land and his office had received request for appeals of less than 3,000 which is about the industry standard.  The appeals will be reviewed by his office and based on industry standards, he expects about 300 will likely advance to the Board of Equalization and Review.  In Bladen County, the commissioners serve in that capacity
The overall reval indicates about a 4.6% to 4.7% drop in values countywide, however the differences vary from one location to another.  For instance, lake front property at White Lake has dropped, based on sales, however 2nd row property has maintained its value, again, based on sales.
Ellis told Elizabethtown officials he could give them a better estimate by April 15 than he could today.  Early estimates indicate values in Elizabethtown will be about the same level as previous years. maybe a slight increase.  In addition to dealing with appeals, Ag related and senior citizen exemptions may alter the final number some.
The Board then delved into departmental issues, capital improvements and a brainstorming session as they prepare to deal with the development of a budget that must be approved my June 30, 2015.
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