LUMBERTON — After almost a year of searching, the Robeson County Board of Commissioners on Monday named a new full-time attorney.
The board after a brief closed session unanimously approved Commissioner Tom Taylor’s motion that Patrick Pait be hired to fill the position. Asked by The Robesonian after the meeting for information about Pait, Taylor referred all questions to County Manager Ricky Harris.
“He’s been practicing in Lumberton four to five years. I’m not sure what kind of law he practices,” Harris said. “He is local. That’s a good thing.”
Harris said that the contract with Pait has not been finalized, but the salary would be between $110,000 and $125,000.
Since longtime County Attorney Hal Kinlaw’s resignation in June 2013, the county has used three interim attorneys. Kinlaw, who was making about $180,000 in salary from the county when he resigned, is still on the county payroll with a $5,000 a month retainer. The county has also used retired Superior Court Judge Gary Locklear and Kimberly Jones.
Harris said earlier that there were originally nine applicants for the position, including six who were local.
The commissioners also on Monday acceptd Harris’ budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year and did not hold a scheduled work session on the plan. The budget, which will become effective on July 1, is expected to be adopted on June 16, according to Kellie Blue, the county’s finance director.
According to Blue, the budget will not include $66,000 to help fund the construction of a horse barn with 100 stalls at the Southeast North Carolina Agricultural Events Center. It also will not include $100,000 to help the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina renovate the North Carolina Indian Cultural Center property between Pembroke and Maxton.
Last month, Harris proposed a $151 million budget that keeps the tax rate the same at 77 cents for every $100 of property value and does not include a cost-of-living increase for employees.
The budget calls for the hiring of two new employees, a registered nurse for health care at the jail, and a deputy sheriff for the county ’s pre-trial program. It includes a $1 million increase in the cost of health insurance and $350,000 for new cars for the Sheriff’s Office.
The budget recommends implementation of a recently completed pay and compensation plan that Harris has said will bring salaries in line.
In other business, the commissioners on Monday:
— Approved without discussion a conditional-use permit that will allow for the establishment of a solar farm on Old Whiteville Road in Wisharts. The solar farm will be constructed by AE Israel Soar Farm LLC on 25 acres of a 105-acre tract owned by Ricky K. Phillips, Donald T. Phillips and Timothy E. Phillips. The property is located in a Residential Agricultural District. No buildings will be constructed on the site.
— Approved conditional use permits allowing for the establishment of a recreational horse facility with R.V. parking spaces in Back Swamp; a family cemetery in Union; and an outreach ministry in Parkton.
— Heard a presentation from Pamela H. Bostic, executive director of the Southeastern Economic Development Commission. Bostic told the commissioners that since 1966 Robeson County has received $15.4 million in funds from the U.S. Department of Commerce-Economic Development Administration for job-creating projects. Robeson County, she said, has received more funding than any of the 12 county members of the Southeastern Economic Development District.
— Approved economic incentives for Cape Fear Arsenal, which is expanding its operations in Lumberton.
— Approved a request from Robeson Community College to transfer county funds from the college’s roofing project to its culinary kitchen heating and air system project.
— Heard a presentation from Barbara Melvin of the North Carolina Indian Housing Authority about a plan to build eight housing units in Red Springs to serve those with disabilities. The homes, known as Parrish Place 2, will be built on Seventh Avenue. Melvin said she hopes construction of the housing will begin shortly.