Pasquotank is again giving a discount to county property owners who pay their property taxes early.

County commissioners Monday night approved giving a half of a percent discount to property owners who pay their tax bill in July or August.

County Manager Sparty Hammett said offering the discount improves Pasquotank’s cash flow.

“It helps spread out the collection of taxes throughout the year instead of the majority of tax collections being concentrated during the month of December,” Hammett said.

Commissioners also unanimously approved extending the county’s fire services contract with Elizabeth City to provide fire protection in parts of the county. They also agreed to hold a public hearing June 21 on Pasquotank’s 2021-22 fiscal-year budget.

The county has maintained a formal three-year contract for “Provision of Fire Protection Services” with the city since 1993. The current three-year agreement was approved in December 2017 and ends at the end of this month.

That agreement called for an automatic 3-percent increase each year but negotiations between the county and city will have Pasquotank pay a flat rate of $447,523 a year for a five-year contract that runs through June 2026. The county is paying $477,523 in the current fiscal year after paying $434,488 in fiscal year 2019-20.

“I think this is a good agreement for both the city and the county,” Hammett said.

The county’s contract with the city fire department covers all property within the Pasquotank County Central Fire District and the city’s 1-mile extraterritorial jurisdiction. There are approximately 1,300 structures in the central district.

Commissioner Barry Overman was with the city’s fire department for 30 years before retiring in 2018 and says the contract has been good for the county.

“A five-year lock is appropriate,” Overman said. “Any time you sign a contract it appears it is more than it is worth, but you are getting something you don’t have and obviously it is going to cost you a little bit. They (the city) are a career department and they are sitting ready to respond and help our volunteer departments as needed at any given time.”

Commissioners are expected to approve the county’s $51.7 million 2021-22 budget following the June 21 public hearing. The budget represents an increase of $3.1 million from the current budget but it does not raise property taxes or include any fee increases.

Pasquotank is budgeting almost $500,000 in its contingency fund for the next fiscal year to cover possible costs related to the shooting death of Andrew Brown Jr.

In the current fiscal year, the county budgeted $40,000 in its contingency fund but Hammett recommended commissioners bump that to $499,300.

Hammett told commissioners Monday that the county had spent between $175,000 to $200,000 on its response to the shooting, most going to law enforcement agencies from outside the county that have provided public safety assistance.

County employees will also get a 2-percent cost-of-living increase. The county is also starting a 401(k) program with a match of up to 5 percent, which will cost the county around $255,000 next fiscal year.

The budget also includes adding to two deputies to the Pasquotank Sheriff’s Office with both being assigned to county courthouse security. The cost of salary and benefits for the two positions is almost $108,000.

The county is also going to purchase a new ambulance at a cost of $210,000 and two new fire trucks for $1.1 million. The fire trucks, however, won’t be delivered to the county until the 2022-23 fiscal year.

“The budget has been prepared to meet the essential needs of Pasquotank County in a challenging economy,” Hammett said. “The county has a solid financial position overall.”