Vernon Bryant

Vernon Bryant is Halifax County Board of Commissioners chairman.

The second vote on the resolution to amend Chapter 26, Code of Ordinances, “Civil Emergencies” was removed from the agenda on Tuesday, during the Halifax County Board of Commissioners meeting.

All board members were not in attendance for the vote, which is a requirement, with the absence of Board Chairman Vernon Bryant and Vice Chairman J. Rives Manning.

County attorney M. Glynn Rollins Jr. said there is no immediate hurry on the ordinance amendment.

“I think the second vote has to take place within 100 days of the first reading,” he said. “We all want to have all six commissioners.”

The first vote of approval took place during the Jan. 4 meeting. The proposed amendment goes beyond COVID-19 and would deal with failure to comply with any emergency order.

During that meeting, Rollins said, “This is broader than what the governor has asked for to give us more teeth to enforce emergency orders during times of a civil emergency,” Rollins said. “Under the current state law, if you don’t comply with the governor’s executive order or the chairman’s local declaration, the only action is taking someone to criminal court on a class 2 misdemeanor.”

Some of the county’s increased options would be a civil penalty of $250 or to get an injunction in court or some other order of abatement, depending on what the violation was, when the judge can ask someone to stop doing something. For example, if someone is not wearing a mask and they are supposed to, if the amendment was in place, the person not wearing a mask can be cited for not complying and be fined $250 as a civil penalty, which would go to the school systems.

For more on that story, read bit.ly/ 39SLfcp.

In other news, the board approved County Manager Tony Brown’s request to accept the county’s legislative goals including the following:

• 911 Surcharge Flexibility

— Seek approval of legislation that would allow part of telephone surcharges for Enhanced 911 systems to be used for salary and related expenses of county-wide communication centers. This would serve as an alternative revenue source to property taxes to provide basic services.

• Mental Health Funding

— Request to be treated proportionally in mandated county contributions relative to the population.

• Joseph Montfort Amphitheater Restoration

— Request funding and support to restore the Joseph Montfort Amphitheater.

• Education Lottery Funding

— Request General Assembly to reinstate education lottery funding back to the 40% level.

• Design Build Concepts for Schools

— Support legislation that requires school design plans catalogued in the School Clearinghouse be reviewed and considered before concept plans for new school projects are approved. The intent is to eliminate expensive design fees for new school construction projects.

• Broadband for Rural Communities

— Request funding and support to expand broadband access to rural communities.

• Unfunded Mandates including Adoption Assistance and Crisis Intervention Programs

— Advocate for legislation that supports counties with additional direct funding and administration expense covering those unfunded mandates not covered directly in G.S. 108-A.

• Ethics Training

— Seek amendment to current legislation regarding ethics training to allow for a more wide-ranging program to encompass multiple areas of responsibility for public officials.

The board also approved Brown’s request for the board to confirm appropriation of unspent fund balance from Fiscal Year 2019-2020 in the amount of $2,558,648 to be used to cover projected one-time capital expenses for FY 2021-22.

Finally, a Resolution in support of the N.C. Association of County Commissioners Presidential Initiative to Promote Food Resiliency was approved as presented by Christina Wells, senior management analyst.

Be it resolved that the Halifax County Board of Commissioners will support the work of the NCACC task force, will commit to examining the food system in Halifax County and will take steps to help strengthen the food system with the goal of sustaining a thriving community, the resolution reads in part.

For more information, visit bit.ly/ 39WmA6D.