By Erin Smith
The Bladen County Board of Education has asked the Bladen County Board of Commissioners to place a referendum on the November ballot seeking a quarter-cent sales tax to be used for maintenance.
During a special called meeting regarding the matter on Monday, July 23, the Commissioners requested the Board of Education to specify exactly which projects would utilize the funds. A draft of the resolution reads, “following successful advisory referendum results, the Board of County Commissioners shall utilize the additional revenue to assist in funding specific projects across the County for the benefit of Bladen County Public Schools.”
Many Bladen County residents are questioning exactly what types of projects the Board of Education has in mind for the funds. Some citizens introducing themselves as tax payers have contacted the BladenOnline.com office with concerns about the recent school board’s approval for pest control funding and the request for the tax referendum.
The Board of Education awarded the pest control services one year contract in the amount $54,420 to Waldron & Company Pest Control of Columbus County at the end of June which was over $30,000 higher than the next closest bidder. The pest control contract is also more than $30,000 higher than neighboring counties reported spending on pest control in one year according to our research.
This has left some residents questioning the Board of Education’s decision on pest control and the sales tax referendum.
Waldron’s contract will be paid with a portion of the funds coming from the Child Nutrition budget and a portion of the funds coming from district funds.
Dr. Taylor said Waldron’s bid was more attractive based on the kinds of service he was going to provide in terms of “going into the schools and types of services provided.”
“All of our services in the past, other than the cafeterias, was as needed. We were always told (in the past) there wasn’t money in the budget for pest control services on a regular basis,” said Dana McDuffie with McDuffie Pest Control. “That was told to us by the maintenance department not the cafeterias which fall under child nutrition.”
In an effort to learn what is the normal range for pest control services for school districts in the area, BladenOnline.com reached out to several surrounding school districts requesting to know what was budgeted for pest control services for those districts for one year. Sampson County Schools has budgeted $21,000 per year.
The Maintenance Department with Sampson County Schools said pest services are rendered once per month for both cafeterias and schools as well as the maintenance building and Central Office. The pest control company sets traps, sprays buildings, performs inspections for such things as termites and applies treatments accordingly. The contract is for one year, according to Sampson County Schools Maintenance Department personnel.
Columbus County Schools Superintendent Allen Faulk said their school district is charged a rate of $58 per site per month for the cafeterias and the regular school buildings are treated on an as needed basis.
Harnett County Schools, Cumberland County Schools, New Hanover County Schools, and Pender County Schools had not responded to our requests for information as of press time.