The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners on Monday unanimously approved a recently brokered agreement between the county and its municipalities on how they will split the growth in sales tax revenue.
County Attorney Rick Moorefield drafted a new sales tax agreement with a two-year term and a provision that the county will receive 100% of sales tax revenue growth. Previously, a five-year agreement split the growth on a 40% to 60% basis, with the county receiving 40%.
The new agreement also puts the municipalities on notice that the Board of Commissioners intends to adopt an ad valorem tax distribution method beginning July 1, 2025. That agreement was sent to all municipalities in the county, which were asked to accept it by March 15. All the municipalities have approved the new agreement, according to interim Assistant County Manager Renee Paschal.
Commissioners Vice Chairman Glenn Adams, who with Chairwoman Toni Stewart was involved in the negotiations with the mayors, had pulled the item off the consent agenda.
“The reason I pulled it is because I didn’t want it buried in the consent agenda,” Adams said.
The consent agenda is usually adopted without discussion at board meetings.
Cumberland County is among the few large counties in North Carolina that still distribute sales tax revenue on a per capita basis. Most other counties with large metro areas use the ad valorem tax method, which provides a greater return for county governments.
Board members heralded the agreement between the county and its municipalities. Adams said it will benefit the school system and give municipalities two years to prepare their budgeting processes in line with the ad valorem system.
The board also approved property tax collection agreements with the towns of Linden, Falcon and Hope Mills. Currently, Cumberland County collects tax revenue for all municipalities in the county. So far, Linden, Falcon, and Hope Mills have signed the agreement.
“County staff anticipates that additional agreements will be forthcoming. They will be placed on the agenda as they are received,” according to a memo to the board from Paschal.
Cherry Bekaert LLP, the county’s external auditor, presented the results of the fiscal 2022 compliance audit, which was completed March 9. That date missed the state-required deadline.
“That’s on us,” said April Adams, an accountant with Cherry Bekaert.
The auditors tested both federal and state programs. Federal programs included Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (ARPA); Temporary Assistance for Needy Families; Child Support Enforcement; Medicaid; Emergency Rental Assistance Program; and Epidemiology Lab Capacity.
State programs included Department of Social Services Crosscutting; Juvenile Crime Prevention Program; and State Foster Care and Guardianship associated benefits.
There were two findings related to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, Adams said.
The county could not provide supporting documentation of the quality reviews in each case for 54 of the 60 case files selected. And in one out of the 60 case files tested, the supporting documentation of rent arrears did not properly support the amount of payment made.
Commissioner Jimmy Keefe asked if the county would be responsible for paying back federal funding that may have not been properly administered.
“How exposed are we on this?” he asked.
Adams said the programs may have been properly administered, but she could not find the documents that prove compliance.
The board also approved dates and times for anticipated fiscal 2024 budget workshops. County Manager Clarence Grier anticipates submitting the proposed budget to the commissioners on May 25.
Grier suggested several work sessions for the board’s review. All the workshops would be held at the Cumberland County Courthouse.
The workshop schedule is:
The board voted to change the public hearing to 7 p.m. June 7.
The next regularly scheduled board meetings are at 9 a.m. April 3, 6:45 p.m. April 17, and 9 a.m. May 1.