Commissioners approve budget amendments, hospital funding

ASHEBORO — The Randolph County Board of Commissioners held a meeting Monday to vote on multiple budget amendments as well as to approve a funding for new projects. 

To kick off the meeting, Lieutenant Reid Linthicum was recognized before the board for 40 years of voluntary service as a Reserve Deputy for Randolph County Sheriff’s Office.

“It’s been an honor,” said Sheriff Greg Seabolt on working with Lt. Linthicum. “I’ve been working some more at night and I’ve observed Reid as he’s working with the younger guys. I’ve seen what kind of mentor he is to them. He’s a great person to have out working with these young guys and you can’t go wrong with him being out there. I even act as if I’m a sponge when I’m around him because he is very knowledgeable.”

The board was also given an update on the status of a few settlements from the national opioid lawsuit the county participated in a few years back. 

“There’s a $750 million settlement that’s coming to North Carolina,” said Paul Coates, one of the local attorneys working on the litigation.” Randolph County’s share of that is just under $10 million. It will be paid out over 18 years and that is only the settlement with the three distributors [AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson] and Johnson and Johnson. There are still cases out there that are being litigated, but this year, you are going to get roughly $1.2 million.”

The settlement includes a memorandum of agreement that stipulates that the money can only be used for things such as treatment, overdose response teams, Naloxone distribution, criminal justice diversion programs, housing support, recovery programs, and etc. 

In order to address potential flooding concerns, the board gave the Soil and Water Conservation Commission permission to pursue a grant from the Streamflow Rehabilitation Assistance Program for a little over $3 million for stream rehabilitation projects in Randolph County.

If selected for funding, the program would assist in rehabilitating multiple waterways in Randolph County. The rehabilitation aims to protect and restore the integrity of drainage infrastructure by removing debris and obstructions in the waterways to help alleviate future flooding concerns. 

“Recent hurricanes in the mountains have caused tremendous flooding,” said Kaitlyn Johnson, a technician for the Soil and Water Conservation District. “Most notably, a couple of months ago in Haywood County, there was substantial flooding and substantial loss of life due to that flooding.”

The commissioners also gave approval for the establishment of the Hospital Psychiatric Renovation Capital Fund. The State of North Carolina had set aside $4 million in order for Randolph Health to renovate space for 32-35 psychiatric beds, and the board needed to establish a fund to account for the proceeds and related renovation costs. 

Along with those funding approvals, the board gave the nod to multiple capital projects for increased budget amendments utilizing County capital reserves funds that were already available due to the prior year’s surplus. 

“We had a good financial year in 2021,” said Assistant County Manager and Finance Officer, Will Massie. “We budgeted conservatively as we didn’t know what the effects of the pandemic were going to be. With all the stimulus money that came down, our sales tax staying strong and us not operating a lot of programs that we normally operate, we had a substantial amount of money that was in excess of 24% of our fund balance requirement. That money was usually set aside for capital improvements and that allows us to do the things we need to do for our facilities without borrowing money.”

The board approved a budget amendment of $5 million for the Farm, Food and Family Education Center, $300,000 for renovations for the Juvenile Day Reporting Center, $1.5 million for the Northgate Rent-A-Center Space Renovation and $3 million for renovations to the historic courthouse. 

In addition to the $300,000 budget amendment for renovations to the JDRC building, the board also approved a new contract with Garanco, Inc. for $161,400 to build four new classrooms in it as well. 

Finally, the board issued a proclamation designating April as Child Abuse Prevention Month in Randolph County. The board urged all citizens, “to recognize this month by dedicating themselves to the task of improving the quality of life for all children and families.”

The next meeting will be held on Monday, May 2.

By Ryan Henkel