JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Onslow County leaders spent Tuesday addressing the county’s $400 million budget in an attempt to develop priorities for allocating funds.
One of the most talked about goals for the new budget was the reintroduction of a detox facility for drug users in the county.
A detox facility located just behind Onslow Memorial Hospital existed in the county until 2012. The 13-bed facility closed after its provider moved, forcing those in need of treatment to look outside of Onslow County.
“You have all of these individuals who are addicted to narcotics, and there’s no treatment facilities for them,” said Robin Knapp, Onslow County commissioner. “It’s a crying shame because a lot of these people can do through rehab – if provided the proper treatment – turn their lives around and be more productive.”
The detox facility is just one of the things commission worked through to create a roadmap of goals to guide the county’s future growth, like finishing up current projects before new ones are funded.
“We’ve had a backlog of construction needs for the past 30 years or so,” said David Cotton, Onslow County’s interim county manager. “The past several boards have really made a concerted effort to fund a model that provides a revenue stream for all of those projects.”
Cotton said his goal as manager is to address concerns residents raise and make sure they aren’t ignored in the bureaucratic shuffle.
“I’m a firm believer in taking ownership of any call, any walk-in, whether they walk into the correct office or not,” said Cotton. “You determine who the best person or department is to address that need and you take care of transferring them to that person.”
Another goal for the commissioners was to avoid raising property taxes.
“We don’t want to raise taxes,” said Jack Bright, the Board of Commissioners chairman. “We never want to raise taxes unless we absolutely need to.”
However, the county might not have a choice.
“The county is “somewhat handicapped by news bills being introduced,” said Bright. “House Bill 2 and House Bill 13 (would) take some of our revenue away that we normally would be able to tax.”
The 2017-2018 General Assembly House Bill 2 affects property taxes, not to be confused with the controversial bathroom law.
Bright estimates about $1.6 million of revenue would be lost.
Other goals for the upcoming year include maintaining the current funding for the school system, which is 35 percent of the total budget, and adequately funding the emergency services department.
The Board of Commissioners will allow public comment on the budget at its next meeting.
A final budget must be in place by July 1.
Additionally, 40 percent of the land in the county is ineligible for taxation because it’s federally owned, so the county must rely on property taxes for its funding.
Bright said a decision about whether to raise taxes depends on whether House Bill 2 and House Bill 13 becomes law.