Chowan County Commission released its proposed budget Monday that does not seek an increase in property tax rates.

And commissioners voted against appropriating an additional $10,000 to the Makiia Slade reward fund for information leading to the arrest and conviction of 9-year-old Slade’s murder.

Proposed budget is poised for approval by the commission on June 21.

Property tax rate will remain fixed at $0.755 (75-1/2 cents per $100) for fiscal year 2021-2022. Despite the replacement of John A Holmes High School with design and early construction management activities underway, and other ongoing County facility improvements as well as a long overdue cost of living salary adjustment for county mmployees, the presented and approved budget does not include any Ad Valorem (Real Property and Personal Property) Tax increases.

The budget contains a small tax increase of 1-1/2 cents per $100 of assessed value in the county fire district which will cover anticipated increases in fire operations expenses. This increase will not apply to the Town of Edenton. The new County Fire Tax rate will be $0.070 (7 cents per $100).

“I sincerely appreciate the efforts of all County Departments as well as Manager Kevin Howard, Clerk Susanne Stallings, Finance Officer Cathy Smith, Sheriff Edward Basnight and Edenton-Chowan Public Schools Superintendent Michael Sasscer for their work in assisting with development of the budget,” said Bob Kirby, Chowan County Commission chairman. “Finally, I wish to express my gratitude toward my fellow County Commissioners who worked diligently through many budget work sessions so that we could collectively achieve a balanced budget while avoiding any significant property tax increase.”

Commission voted 4-3 against allocating $10,000 toward the Slade’s reward fund with commissioners Ellis Lawrence, Alex Kehayes, Ron Cummings and Kirby opposing the measure while Larry McLaughlin, Chris Evans and Tray Taylor were in favor of providing additional reward money.

The little girl was killed, and her mother, Shatory Slade, injured, on July 24, 2020, when someone in a passing vehicle shot into the Slades’ vehicle as they traveled on U.S. 17 South, near the West Queen Street interchange.

More than $15,000 in reward money from state and private funds has been offered for tips that lead to the arrest and conviction of a suspect in the case.

Opponents of appropriating additional reward money from the county said while they are sympathetic, commissioners cited concerns about creating a precedent that could suggest that any other criminal homicide case may demand reward money.

Kehayes said while it is a terrible situation about what happened to Slade, it would be wrong to set a precedent for this case.

McLaughlin said the additional reward money might entice someone to come forward with information, so that should be seen as a benefit to law enforcement agents investigating the case. He said the money would serve as a strong sign to the community that the county is willing to dedicate the resources needed.

Evans said a bigger reward would serve as another tool for law enforcement.

Both Kirby and Lawrence were on the same page when saying that while they are strongly inclined to donate their personal funds to the reward fund, they didn’t think it was right for taxpayer funds to be allocated toward this endeavor.

McLaughlin countered that Governor Cooper’s office has allocated provided $10,000 of state taxpayer money toward the reward fund, so why can’t the county do the same.

Chowan County Sheriff’s Office and the State Bureau of Investigations are asking anyone information on the case, to call the Chowan Sheriff’s Office at 252-482-8484 or the SBI at 919-662-4500. The Crime Stoppers Tip Line can be reached at 252-482-5100.

Staff writer Miles Layton can be reached at mlayton@ncweeklies.com