Lumberton officials stumped over town budget crisis

The city of Lumberton will have depleted the money in its general fund within two weeks. Yet Mayor Aaron Lott and the board of aldermen have not been able to come to an agreement on how to resolve the problem.

Lott and the board must find a way to fund the city until February when they will receive tax revenues.

Two motions were brought forward to borrow a total of $200,000 from two city funds.  The motions were approved but then were vetoed by Lott.

The two dissenting votes against borrowing from the funds were from aldermen E. Nell Busby and Stanley Rayburn.  Busby cited the $40,000-per-month shortfall between expenditures and income, saying that deficit needs to be resolved before any borrowing is done.

Rayburn believes borrowing is just a bad idea.

"I don't think borrowing the money right now is going to fix anything," he says. "It's going to prolong the problem. And it's going to get us again right square in the face next year."

Any money borrowed from the funds would have to be paid back by next March 15. So the city is looking to take out a $4 million bank loan to pay back the funds and run the city until February.

The mayor and the aldermen agreed to have a work session next Monday evening to look at the budget line-by-line for ways to cut expenditures.

With $750,000 of the $1.1 million budget going to city payroll, jobs will surely have to be cut.

The loss of jobs could affect city police, the sewage and water department, and city clerks.  A number of city employees were on hand at the meeting and expressed their displeasure with the possibility of job cuts.