LUMBERTON — County Manager Ricky Harris says that the county commissioners will get a good overview of their county government when they hold their annual retreat Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The three days of meetings will be at the county’s Emergency Operations Center, next to the Sheriff’s Office on Legend Road.
“It is good when the commissioners can get together at a time and place that is not just a regular meeting,” Harris said. “… Retreats have been very beneficial in the past.”
Harris said that the retreat gives county officials a chance to make plans for the current and upcoming fiscal years.
“They get to review strategies and set possible goals,” he said.
According to the manager, all but a couple of the county’s department heads will make presentations to the commissioners.
“Department heads will give an overview of current county services and functions their departments provide,” Harris said. “They will also take time to identify department priorities for the 2013-14 fiscal budget.”
Unlike previous retreats, there will be no presentations from organizations such as the Lumber River Council of Governments or the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners.
“I think it’s more important that the commissioners hear from just the department heads this year,” said Harris, who has set the business agenda for the retreat.
But at least one county commissioner said that he isn’t sure hearing just presentations from department heads is the best way to conduct business at the retreat.
“I’d like to see the commissioners get more involved in the discussion of issues,” said David Edge, the board’s lone Republican member. “They should throw out ideas about ways to change things and improve the county rather than just hear what county departments have done over the past year.”
The commissioners apparently will not address the issue of their pay and benefits. Last year they asked Harris to conduct a study about how they are compensated after a series of stories by The Robesonian that showed their pay and benefits are greater than most commissioners across the state, but they have yet to act on the study.
Chairman Noah Woods has said that the commissioners will address the issue when they are preparing the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. At least group that calls itself Citizens for Integrity in Government is asking residents to attend the commissioners meeting on Feb. 18 to demand immediate action on their compensation.
All three days of the retreat are open to the public. Business will be conducted from 8:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. on Wednesday, 8:45 a.m. to 4:20 p.m. on Thursday and 8:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday.