Local Politics

Chatham delays revaluation, construction bids

Posted October 6, 2008 2:37 p.m. EDT

— The Chatham County Board of Commissioners voted Monday to put off the county-wide property revaluation for one year and took steps to respond to the national economic slowdown.

The credit crunch forced the county to delay construction bids for a combined library and classrooms at Central Carolina Community College for 30 days. County Manager Charlie Horne also said cost-cutting measures, including a temporary freeze on all non-essential county staff positions and a ban on unnecessary travel, would be implemented.

“These actions were necessary because, at least for the short term, we are currently feeling the impact of the national financial situation," George Lucier, chairman of the county Board of Commissioners, said in a statement. "We are not happy about taking any of these steps, but we are all at in the same boat right now.”

Vicki McConnell, assistant county manager and finance director, said officials would continue to monitor the credit markets and decide when to proceed with bids.

“While Chatham County maintains a very good credit rating, the credit just isn’t available, so we can’t move forward at this time,” Lucier said.

On Oct. 20, the Board of Commissioners will consider short-term delays of other county-funded facilities, if needed. But planning and design of facilities could continue, he said.

Assistant County Manager Renee Paschal updated commissioners on several county economic indicators, which included declines in deed stamp collections and building permits over the past four to five quarters. The county’s unemployment rate was 5.6 percent in August, compared with 3.7 percent a year ago.

“Sales tax revenues for the second quarter of this year are down 6.8 percent from last fiscal year,” Paschal said, adding that foreclosure sales and bankruptcies are increasing.

“The decline in expected revenues has affected the county’s fund balance,” McConnell said. “We won’t have as much money for various projects that were to be paid by fund balance.”