• By Catharin Shepard
• Staff writer
The Hoke County Board of Commissioners held the first of a series of budget workshops Tuesday to decide the county’s finances for the upcoming 2020-2021 fiscal year.
The board resumed a recessed meeting Tuesday in the commissioners’ room at the Pratt Building to hear budget requests from county department heads. The workshops were set to continue Wednesday and Thursday as commissioners review budget items for each county-funded department.
County Manager Letitia Edens and Finance Office staff members have been working for several months already on putting together a draft budget proposal for the board members to review.
The Hoke County Sheriff’s Office was one of the first to present its budget request to commissioners. Besides operating funds, Hoke County Sheriff Hubert Peterkin requested funding for a staff sergeant to oversee uniformed staff, and additional fencing for security purposes for a parking lot used to house vehicles and equipment.
Peterkin said a high priority this year was seeking permission from the commissioners to use money from the misdemeanor confinement fund to pay jail staff overtime, instead of giving them compensatory time. It would be a boost for morale among jail staff, Peterkin said.
The statewide misdemeanor confinement fund pays county jails for housing inmates convicted of misdemeanor crimes. The Hoke County Jail participates in the program. The sheriff proposed taking about $50,000 from the fund to pay overtime for jail employees. He also sought commissioners’ support to use the monthly income from that fund to pay overtime instead of comp time, moving forward.
The Hoke County Jail has cut down “tremendously” on its overtime thanks to moving to a different system of inmate supervision, the sheriff said.
Several commissioners, including Chairman James Leach, Vice Chairman Harry Southerland and Commissioner Allen Thomas spoke in support during discussion of the proposal.
Peterkin additionally updated the board members on precautions the jail is taking to avoid a COVID-19 outbreak. The jail quarantines any new inmate for 14 days, conducts temperature checks and is not allowing visitation at this time.
The sheriff’s office – not the jail – has had six employees test positive for COVID-19, Peterkin said. The office underwent a sanitizing clean.
Other county departments and the Hoke County Board of Education were also scheduled to present budget requests to the board this week.