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Dare County budget amendments aim to help county employees

Dare County Board of Commissioners approved numerous mid-fiscal year budget adjustments at its Jan. 19 scheduled meeting.

Adjustments were made to both the general operating and capital investment funds.

In the operating fund, three money moves honor Dare County employees who have worked diligently and collaboratively on the county’s COVID-19 response.

County manager Robert L. Outten saluted those employees working in high risk positions everyday like public health nurses, emergency medical staff and first responders. Staffers were shifted to other departments to do a myriad of jobs.

Outten said he has not had one single complaint from the staff.

A one-time COVID-19 response bonus pool has been set up with $375,000 and totaling $437,250 with fringe benefits.

Outten called it “a little bit from us” to acknowledge the pandemic work that staff has stepped up to do.

The bonus pool will be distributed in a lump sum payment to nurses who are exempt employees – $1,000, first responders such as Emergency medical workers and sheriff’s deputies – $600, remaining staff – $400, and $200 to part-time employees.

In addition to the COVID bonus, employees will receive a 2.0% cost of living adjustment, which will be paid out in a lump sum this fiscal year and then as a salary increase as of July 1, 2021. The COLA costs $842,352. Dare County’s policy is to keep in line with the economy and the salary increase reflects cost increases.

A merit pool was re-established with $525,470 at 1.25% of salaries. Employee evaluations have been completed.

The employee benefits were also applied to these separate funds: C&D, sanitation, water, insurance and fleet maintenance funds.

The adopted budget amendment also allocated $50,000 to facility maintenance for HVAC in the Administration Building and Justice Center and $21,700 for new operation costs for March 15 through June 30, 2021 at the almost ready new Animal Shelter.

A one-time revenue gain of $936,417 was accumulated from growth increases, not likely to be repeated. Those funds were allocated as $350,000 for the commissioners’ daycare initiative and $586,417 to the capital investment fund.

In the capital investment fund, the vehicles and equipment scheduled for purchase this fiscal year will go forward, using $1,671,162 in financed funding. The purchases were delayed due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 economy. This expenditure and others are possible because through December 2020 the revenue from land transfer tax has increased by 95.23% for the same period in this fiscal year over a similar period last fiscal year.

Dare County Schools receives $300,000 for local capital outlay. The commissioners pledged to review the fiscal state of the county and provide funds that were not allocated at budget time. The budgeted funds were $150,000.

An additional expenditure is $63,195 for “pay as you go” cash for projects in facilities maintenance, parks and recreation and libraries.

The commissioners unanimously passed the budget amendment.

In the consent agenda, the commissioners approved a resolution to the Division of Water Resources of the North Carolina Department of Environmental requesting $1,557,606.74 in financial assistance for the Buxton maintenance/storm damage repair 2021. The grant has been tentatively approved by the State of North Carolina and is pending the successful execution of the grant contract.

The funds will be used for beach nourishment, artificial dunes and other projects to mitigate or remediate coastal storm damage to the ocean beaches and dune systems in Buxton.

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