Commissioners approve changes to budget plan

Catawba County commissioners approved several changes to their proposed budget that will increase their anticipated financial plan by about $93,500.

After listening to lobbying comments from two county citizens during a public hearing Thursday, the board decided to fund a secretarial position in the county’s Cooperative Extension office, as well as three other budget areas.

Next year, the Cooperative Extension may see up to 15 percent in funding cuts from the state, which pays for half of extension workers’ salaries. The county pays for the other half, said Catawba County Manager Tom Lundy.

After listening to comments from Catawba County Agriculture Advisory Board Chairman Clarence Hood and Catawba Valley Farm Bureau President Joe Gladden, county commissioner Dan A. Hunsucker recommended that the board fund the secretarial position.

The secretarial position funding is about $11,000.

“I’m happy with the board’s decision,” Gladden said after the hearing.

“Our agents were getting so backed up with clerical work that they couldn’t do their job properly in the field.”

Hood told commissioners that the more than 700 farms in the county rely on service provided by the cooperative extension. Extension agents strive to help the community in various ways ranging from horticulture to specialty crops, according to the extension’s website.

Gladden added that he hopes commissioners realize that they need to take the initiative to fund areas that the state might possibly cut.

Hood told commissioners that the more than 700 farms in the county rely on service provided by the cooperative extension.

Other changes approved

The county will:

—Cut $17,969 in funding from Mental Health Partners, the county’s mental health management group, to match the same cut made by Burke County, which also funds the group. The funds cut will now benefit Catawba Valley Behavioral Health and Family Net $9,883 and $8,076 respectively.

—Create a $50,000 contingency fund for voting equipment because of possible state cuts to the county’s Board of Elections office. Larry Brewer, Catawba County Board of Elections director, told commissioners Tuesday that the state plans to cut funds used for maintenance. Lundy said that if the state does not cut funding, the contingency money will not be spent.

—Give $30,000 to the Register of Deeds office for online retractions of personal information.

—Add $2,500 to the Catawba County Historical Association budget.

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