WHITMIRE — Whitmire Town Council raised the suggestion Monday during a budget workshop to raise sewer fees from $16 to $19.50, a move that would generate more than $40,000 in revenue.
The increase would make the fee the same as that for water inside the town limits. It would amount to sewer customers paying $42 more per year than what they currently pay.
Councilman Dwight Lane suggested waiting a year to increase the fee due to not knowing how using the new radio read meters the town will install might impact customer bills.
Mayor Billy Hollingsworth said that was the only way he knew to generate extra revenue on the public works side of the proposed 2014-15 fiscal year budget, currently balanced at $578,650.
Hollingsworth said he was still working with the auditor’s office due to this year being a reassessment year.
“We do not know about millage at this time,” Hollingsworth said.
For the police department, the uniform allowance in the budget is currently $1,500, which is the same as last year’s budget. Year to date, $3,119.49 has been spent, leaving a difference of $1,619.49 over budget.
Hollingsworth said the number was high due to buying uniforms for auxiliary officers.
Police Chief Jeremiah Sinclair said their officers get on average one uniform per year, which includes vests, patches, holsters, etc.
“Pants will fade, and badges will fall off,” Sinclair said.
Hollingsworth said that while the department tries to fit new officers with uniforms they already have, it is not always possible. That item might be increased before final reading of the budget.
Vehicle repair and maintenance is being increased to $5,500 for the 2014-15 year, up from the $3,500 budgeted for this fiscal year.
Streets and Sanitation
Hollingsworth pointed out several items in the streets and sanitation budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year. Truck and mower expenses will remain at $10,000 due to new mowers that were purchased for the town.
“They’re being taken care of better now than in the past,” Hollingsworth said. “We’ve gotten our money’s worth out of them.”
The street light budget for the town was increased from $27,000 to $29,000 for the upcoming year.
Councilman Michael Thomas asked Hollingsworth if there was any way to conserve money on that end.
Hollingsworth said Duke Power indicted that cutting part of the streets lights off on Main Street would not produce much savings on the town’s end.
“We need to let them do an engineering study and have them give us their recommendations,” Hollingsworth said.
The electricity and gas expense was increased on the administration side due to the new Town Hall Annex building that the town is now using, Hollingsworth said, but was unsure whether that would be enough.
Last year’s budget for electricity/gas was $3,500 compared to this year’s proposal of $4,500.
The gasoline and diesel expense budget was increased from $6,000 to $7,000 due to the increase in gasoline prices.
On the recreation side, changes from last year’s budget include decreasing the $13,000 allowed for recreation expenses to $11,000.
Hollingsworth said that number could be lowered based on what has been spent year to date: $7,585.18.
Health insurance in the recreation department was increased from $5,250 to $5,800 because Hollingsworth said in actuality that is how much it was going to cost them versus what they had planned for last year.
Councilwoman Cassie Fowler asked about adding funds to the Economic Development Board budget for making copies, fundraising and other tasks board members complete for the town.
Hollingsworth said making copies should be free as long as the members are making them at Town Hall.
Council members agreed to work on adding a line item in the budget that would include $1,000 for advertising purposes.
Whitmire Public Works
Expenses for the Whitmire Public Works are projected at $824,206, with a projected income of $786,500, leaving a deficit of $37,706.
“We either need to come up with more revenue, or take something away,” Hollingsworth said.
Included in the water budget is payment on the $200,000 loan from BB&T to buy radio read meters for the town.
The water budget also includes $4,000 set aside for capital expenditures, but none of those funds had been spent by March. Hollingsworth said the money is set aside for projects such as roofing.
The $14,000 sewer expense in this year’s budget for Synagro was dropped to $5,000 because it was a one-time expense.
The expense amount for chemicals was increased to $18,000, up from the $15,000 in this year’s budget. Hollingsworth said that expense is based on the price of fuel and that it increases during rainy seasons.
“It’s just a guessing game,” Hollingsworth said.
In other business, council passed second reading of the ordinance allowing the town to proceed with the BB&T loan of $200,000 for the radio read meters.