County bumps funds for Forestry Services

First Posted: 8/19/2013

LUMBERTON —The Robeson County Board Commissioners on Monday increased the county’s 2013-14 fiscal year share of the N.C. Forestry Services local budget by $16,427. The additional funding is an attempt to help the agency’s county office get additional money from the state.

The additional funding, bringing the county’s allocation for the current fiscal year to about $168,000, is enough for the county’s Forestry office to receive another $45,000 from the state for operating expenses. The county is responsible for funding the office by 40 percent, with the state allocating 60 percent of the annual operating expenses.

During the past several years, Robeson County’s Forestry Services office has received less funding than surrounding counties, all of which fight fewer fires and have less area to cover than does Robeson, Adlia Strickland, the county’s forest ranger, told the board.

Strickland said that he has made his needs known to to both the county and state over the past several years, but he has not received the money needed to most efficiently operate his office.

“We put off purchase and maintenance of equipment until money is available,” he said. “We do the best we can with what we have.”

During this year’s budget process, the commissioners asked Strickland to contact the county’s legislators and request they look into why his office doesn’t receive more funding. In response, Strickland contacted state Sen. Michael Walters,

Michael Good, a Forestry Service district manager from Fayetteville who oversees six counties that include Robeson, told the commissioners Monday that he has received word that if the county increased its allocation to the agency by $16,000, the state would increase its allocation enough to provide the Robeson County office with another $45,000 in operating expenses.

Asked by commissioners exactly where the additional county money would be used, Good and Strickland both said it would go toward the purchase and maintenance of equipment and office supplies, such as computers.

“A more specific budget will be drawn to include these items,” Good said.

Strickland also told the commissioners that he should know by November whether the state will authorize a new office for his department to be located at the Southeastern North Carolina Agricultural Events Center. Strickland said his temporary office is located in Pembroke.

In other business, the commissioners on Monday:

— Voted for the first time to on community development funds, also known as discretionary money. The board approved 67 transactions, totaling about $22,000, for the public record. The contributions ranged from $50 to $2,000. An information packet did not include details of the contributions, including who contributed to what. The money was distributed in advance of the vote.

— Recognized the West Robeson Nationals for winning the coach-pitch Dixie Youth AA Region 1 World Series tournament in Rockwood, Tenn. This is the second consecutive year that the team won the title. The tournament included 16 teams from four states.

— Approved two bids for projects in the Maxton area that will supply water to the Campbell Soup Company. The bids were for $389,425 from Bill’s Well Drilling of Fayetteville, and $406,178 from McArthur Construction of Lumberton. Both were low bids.

— Approved the low bid of $86,983 from Go Energies to provide a “full service” fuel station at the county landfill in St. Pauls. The facility will provide a location for county vehicles to be refueled with both diesel and regular gasoline.

According to Commissioner Lance Herndon, chairman of the county’s Public Works Committee, the station will allow the county to purchase fuel in bulk.

“It (station) will be paid for in three years,” Herndon said. “It will allow us to save a lot.”

— Approved an incentives package for an international distribution company considering locating in Robeson County. The incentives package is based on the number of jobs created.

The company, code named Project Carpet Ride, plans to create about 60 jobs, and invest about about $1.6 million for equipment and a warehouse on Interstate 95.

— Convened as the Housing Authority Board and accepted a $1,000 grant from the North Carolina Community Foundation. The grant helped fund the Housing Authority’s recent Summer Science Academy.

As the Housing Authority Board, the commissioners also awarded a three-year contract for disposal services to All Points Waste Management Service for $38,689, and a two-year contract to Mitchell’s Lawn Care Service for lawn maintenance.