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Safe drinking water, sales tax revenue among county priorities


The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday got of glimpse of the county’s priorities from now until March, which includes providing safe drinking water to the southern portion of Cumberland County and securing an agreement with county municipalities on how to split sales tax revenues. 

The commissioners held their monthly agenda session where they decide whether to forward items proposed by county staff to regular meeting agendas. 

The priorities as presented by county staff include: 

  • Preliminary FY 2022 fund balances 
  • Classification and compensation 
  • Water supply development 
  • Solid waste disposal options 
  • Crown Event Center 
  • Homeless shelter 
  • ARP and broadband 
  • Sales tax distribution method 
  • General fund major revenue update 
  • Debt models 
  • Governmental services complex 
  • Rhodes Pond 
  • Internal priorities 

Internal priorities include: 

  • On-boarding a new county manager 
  • FY 2024 budget 
  • Improving the process for advertising procurement opportunities 
  • Opioid settlement projects 
  • Timekeeping system implementation 
  • Tax revaluation preparation 
  • Detention Center health services RFP 
  • Health insurance renewal 

After the 90-day priority session presentations to commissioners from various department representatives, interim County Manager Renee Paschal asked, “Are those your priorities for us between now and March?” Paschal was asking if commissioners wanted to add items; however, most responded that the current list is ambitious enough. 

One issue coming to a head in April is the county’s decision on whether to change the way the county and its towns and municipalities share sales tax proceeds. 

By April, the commissioners must determine whether sales tax distribution is on a per capita or ad valorem basis. Currently, Cumberland County uses the per capita distribution method based on an agreement that has been in place since 2003. This agreement expires on June 20. 

The per capita distribution method tends to benefit municipalities, especially if they are able to annex and thus grow their population. At the same time, argue county staff, the county’s sales tax share shrinks, but county responsibilities remain the same. 

State law allows boards to vote to change the sales tax sharing method in April; after the vote, the new method goes into effect 14 months later. 

According to the county’s finance department, changing to the ad valorem method would see a $7.6 million increase for the county, a $1 million increase for the school system, and a $3.3 million increase for fire districts. However, the city of Fayetteville would lose $9.5 million, and the other towns within the county would lose a combined $3.9 million. 

The county’s loss in fiscal year 2024 is approximately $9.6 million if sales tax sharing is based on the per capita method without an agreement among the county and municipalities to hold the county harmless. 

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Another priority for the board is providing safe drinking water for residents living in the southern portion of Cumberland County, which has been shown to suffer a large number of private well contamination from the nearby Chemors manufacturing plant. 

According to Amanda Bader, the county’s Environmental Resources general manager, the first phase in the development of the proposed Cumberland County water will be identifying a groundwater supply source. 

In her presentation, Bader said the county will develop groundwater resources to supply drinking water to residents with contaminated wells. Currently, the county is looking for funding from all possible sources for the initial phases. 

 Board Vice Chairman Glenn Adams asked the status of providing water to two area schools located off NC 87. The schools are Alderman Road Elementary and Gray's Creek Elementary.

County Attorney Rick Moorefield said the county was unable to get an agreement for water from the Fayetteville Public Works Commission.

Moorefield told commissioners that additional resources could become available from Chemours, depending on what happens with the county’s lawsuit against Chemours. Moorefield said he expects to have more detailed information in about three months. 

 On another matter, Bader told commissioners that the county’s landfill, located on Ann Street in downtown Fayetteville, has about eight years left before it can no longer be used. She told commissioners the “selected approach” is to temporarily transfer and mine out the existing balefill for future landfill construction. 

 The county’s Solid Waste department will implement a public participation plan to ensure community buy in. The department is contacting community stakeholders. The county also will issue a request for proposals for transfer, hauling and disposal services. 

Jason Brady covers Cumberland County government for CityView. He can be reached at jbrady@cityviewnc.com.

Cumberland County, Board of Commissioners, safe drinking water, sales tax revenue