By Stefanie Jackson – Northampton Director of Finance John Chandler proposed increased county expenditures of more than $2.6 million in fiscal year 2020, including an additional $345,000 for public education.
Among Northampton school division’s top funding priorities are a social worker, teacher pay increases averaging 2.5 percent, raises for school staff, and health insurance rate increases of more than 12 percent.
In light of costly structural issues at Northampton High School that need addressing, supervisors discussed the county’s debt situation.
Chandler said 56 percent of the county’s debt is from building the Eastern Shore Regional Jail for $24 million.
As the jail debt is paid off, “that will enable us, at that particular time – though we may not be able to wait that long – to increase more debt,” said Spencer Murray, chairman of the board of supervisors.
Combined county and school debt will fall below $15 million in FY 2022, $10 million in FY 2024, and $5 million in FY 2026.
In the upcoming fiscal year, Northampton county employees will receive a 3 percent pay raise at a cost of almost $280,000.
Health insurance rates for county employees have risen more than 10 percent, contributing to a wellness cost increase of nearly $100,000.
Northampton needs two more Emergency Medical Services personnel, and one existing EMS position must be upgraded from part-time to full-time to assist the Community Fire Department in Exmore, for a total cost of about $182,000.
Among the county’s highest pro- posed expenditures are $400,000 to re- place the camera system at the jail and $250,000 to purchase software for the offices of the county treasurer and the commissioner of the revenue.
Solid waste services will cost about $206,000 more next year, and a planned upgrade to the Bayview convenience center will cost $200,000.
The planning department will get $100,000 to continue removing 200 structures identified as unsafe and another $100,000 for the professional consultant who will assist the planning commission with updating the county’s comprehensive plan.
The March 26 report focused primarily on proposed expenditures, with details on balancing the budget forthcoming.