GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – After several hours of debating and hearing from county residents, Pitt County Commissioners agreed and compromised on their new budget, which totals more than $236 million.
The 6-2 vote came after an initial vote of 4-4. The major sticking point in conversations surrounded pay increases for county employees.
Half of the commissioners wanted to see pay for performance raises remain, which would give employees a raise between 2.6% and 3.8%. However, others felt that wasn’t nearly enough, and wanted a 5% pay increase across the board for all county employees.
To pay for those increases, more money would have to be taken from the county’s fund balance, which is like a savings account.
In the end, the two sides compromised on a deal that would offer pay increases across the board while also keeping pay for performance increases in play. The final plan would give all county employees a 2.6% raise, with the possibility of another 1.2% or 2.4% based on performance.
Law enforcement officers on the low end of the pay scale would be eligible for a 6.2% pay increase while those making more money would be eligible for a 5% increase.
Despite that, some, like Lee Pascasio, said that isn’t enough for deputies.
“You can accommodate fair pay. It’s over 30 years overdue,” he said. “Please stop the loss of so many good deputies from our sheriff’s department.”
Pascasio argued that deputies should make just as much as Greenville Police Officers, whose salaries start at around $40,872.
The budget also calls for a 68.6 cents property tax per $100, up from the current rate of 68 cents.
During Monday’s public meeting, many associated with county schools praised commissioners for their work to fund education. The county will allot more than $39.2 million to schools, up $1.8 million from the previous year.
Teachers said that increase will allow them to better recruit high-quality teachers.
“As someone who spends a great deal of time in the schools, both personally and professionally, I can assure you that these funds are much needed and will be put to use wisely and sufficiently,” said Kylene Dibble.
In total, the county will take $5 million from their fund balance to pay for the new budget. Those who voted against the budget, Commissioners Jimmy Garris, and Mark Owens, said the county was setting themselves up for failure by spending so much money this year.