As the county commissioners neared the end of their first meeting of the new year, Chairman Tare “T” Davis issued a plea to his fellow citizens to follow safety guidel nes to bring down the number of active cases of COVID-19 in the county.

County Manager Vincent Jones said that the health department, following guidelines set by the state, has prioritized how vaccines will be distributed locally.

Other matters

In other matters, the board:

• Authorized the chairman to sign Warren County Schools Facility Needs certification agreement.

• Approved a three-year lease agreement with dollar buyout with ATCOM Business Technology at $4,263 per month for a new county phone system.

• Approved increases in tap fees from $950 on a three-quarter-inch water tap to $1,200 and from $1,100 on a 1-inch water tap to $1,500 effective Feb. 1, due to continued increases in construction and operating costs.

• Approved providing tax payment coupons to taxpayers in the 2021 and future tax bills upon recommendation of Tax Administrator John Preston. Preston said that the intention was to break down citizens’ tax bills into four more manageable payments. Information he provided to commissioners stated that the effort would help some taxpayers determine the payments needed to pay their tax bills before the Jan. 5 annual delinquent date. The initial impact to the budget will be $3,387 the first year, then reduced in subsequent years.

• Approved a temporary salary increase of $5,000 annualized for interim Department of Social Services Director Emma Perry. Perry took over as interim on Jan. 1 following the retirement of former director Ryan Whitson.

• Heard from the county manager, during his Coronavirus Relief Fund update, that the county had been able to use all of its share of the funding, which had to be spent by Dec. 30. Of the $953,000 in funding received, 25 percent went to the three municipalities: $125,000 to Norlina, $96,000 to Warrenton and $16,000 to Macon, Jones said. County funds were used to purchase protective equipment and to offset payroll expenses, specifically the sheriff’s office, which produced a savings for the county, Jones added.

• Heard from citizen Milo Alston, for the third consecutive month, regarding the Warren County Memorial Committee. Alston said that county commissioners should stop the committee’s work until citizens can attend in-person meetings, which are currently being held online via Zoom videoconference.

• Scheduled a meeting to discuss the coming budget for the afternoon of Tuesday, Jan. 19, and moved the date of a previously planned retreat to Wednesday, Feb. 17. Times and locations will be announced.