Craven County Government
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Craven County was named after William, Earl of Craven
Craven County Government
In North Carolina,
county government is the level of government that directly
impacts every citizen. County governments were originally
created by the state to give citizens greater access to
state government services. In the days of horse and buggy citizens
could not be expected to travel to Raleigh every time they
needed government services. Therefore the state legislature
created counties, and the governor appointed justices of the
peace to oversee each county and carry out the mandated policies
and services of state government.
After the Civil War, the new NC Constitution gave citizens more input into
electing their local leaders. Citizens were given the power to
elect the sheriff, county coroner, register of deeds, clerk of court,
and the newly created board of commissioners. The commissioners
replaced the justices of the peace and were given the
responsibility for the county finances and setting the property
tax rate. Today, the counties remain an arm of the state
government and carry out many of the services that are mandated
onto them by the state and federal government. The state
legislature determines how many counties there are and what the
boundaries will be.
Who Runs the County?
The citizens of each of the 100 counties elect a board of commissioners. In
Craven County the elections for commissioners are held every 4
years. The board of commissioners have the authority to hire a
professional manager to oversee the day to day operations of the
county government. In addition to the county manager, the
commissioners hire the county attorney, and a clerk to the
county board. Generally speaking, the county manager is
responsible for hiring the other 600 plus employees for Craven
The board of commissioners sets the property tax
rate and adopts the county budget each year. The budget is
adopted by way of an ordinance must be voted on by June 31 of
each year. By law, a county budget must be balanced, and
counties are required to maintain a fund balance or savings
account equal to 8 percent of their budget. Each year department
heads must submit a budget to the county manager. The county
manager and his staff will review the department's budget and
after making changes will submit it to the commissioners for
review. The board also establishes county policies by adopting
resolutions and local laws known as ordinances.
Counties receive funding from several sources,
but property taxes provide the bulk of the revenue. In Craven
County the property tax accounts for about 43 percent of the
Click here for tax rates in Craven County.
Counties do not have the authority to
implement new taxes or increase existing taxes, other than
property taxes which they can adjust at any time. The North
Carolina Constitution requires that all property be assessed at
its fair market value and requires counties to re-assess
property values every 8 years. Counties have the option to
re-assess more frequently if they desire. Local sales taxes are
another important source of revenue for counties, and provide
about 20 percent of Craven County revenue. The counties share
the sales tax with all the municipalities within its bounties
and the state government. Charges for certain services such as
building permits, copies at the register of deeds, fire
protection, various test at the health department, account for
15 percent of the counties revenue. The balance mostly comes
from the state or federal government in the form of pass
through, or grant money to furnish services mandated by the
state or federal government.
Where does the money go?
In North Carolina, counties are required to build and
maintain school buildings. They also pay for the utilities for
each school. Many counties, Craven County included, offer
teacher salary supplements to attract and maintain qualified
teachers. Craven County also pays for teacher aides, books,
supplies and contributes funding for security personal at some
schools. All this equals to about 25 percent of Craven County budget.
Social Services is the single largest single
budget item, accounting for 28 percent of Craven Counties
budget. The county commissioners appoint members to the
Department of Social Services Board Of Directors, and the board
members hire a director to oversee the day to day activities.
In Craven County there are around 280 employees that work for DSS.
Due to the many problems we face as a society I expect this part
of the budget will continue to increase. Five years ago there
were 9 children in our foster care, today that number is around
150. The annual amount of money that passes through DSS is well
over 125 million dollars. Much of that money is passed through
funding from the state or federal government. In most states the
state government administers public assistance programs. In NC
that task is assigned to the counties. The County Department of
Social Services administer the food stamp and Medicaid programs,
as well as their normal duties such as foster care, child abuse, etc.
The sheriff's office accounts for about 13
percent of the budget. In NC, the sheriff is an elected
official. Although the counties are required to pay the sheriffs
salary and fund his staff, the sheriff answers to the voters, not
the commissioners. In addition to the sheriff's office the
counties are required to provide for a county jail which is run
by the sheriff.
The counties are also
required to provide space for the state district attorney
and the state district and superior court facilities. The
sheriff's department provides the security personal needed for
The health department and environmental services
account for around 15 percent of the county budget. Debt
service, paying off the money we have borrowed, accounts for 2
percent of the county budget.
There are two types of services provided by the
county. The first kind are services that are required by the
state or federal government. Some examples are the office of the
register of deeds. The register of deeds is elected by the
citizens and the county and is required to provide the funds to
operate this office. Other examples of mandatory services are
mental health care, health department, agricultural extension,
building inspections, social services, and the sheriffs office.
The state allows the counties to provide other services if they
so desire. An example of such optional services would include
public libraries, water and sewer, airport, hospital, and parks
The county commissioners appoint a board of
directors to oversee the operation of Craven Regional
Hospital. The hospital operates as an authority, which
means they are responsible for overseeing all operations, and
their budget operates outside of the county.
Craven County Airport also operates as an
authority. The airport board of directors are appointed by the
county commissioners and they hire a director to oversee day to
day operations. The airport has undergone several expansions
recently and now is considered to be one of the finest of its
size in the Carolinas.
Solid waste is another optional government
service that Craven County has elected to offer. The county
contracts with several private haulers to pick up trash. The
trash is hauled to a regional landfill located in Tuscarora,
which is in the western part of Craven County. Craven, Pamlico,
and Carteret Counties are members of the regional solid waste
authority. All trash from the 3 member counties makes it way to
the Tuscarora landfill for its final resting place. Here the
landfill director, hired
by the authority, makes sure it is disposed of in a manner that
meets all state and federal requirements.
For more information about services provided by Craven County
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