Town budget includes hikes in water rates, solid waste

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A proposed $7.2 million budget for the town of Mount Olive next year, keeps the tax rate the same, but passes higher costs for water rates and solid waste onto taxpayers. The budget is up for public inspection for the next 30 days.

The “no-frills” document was handed over to the members of the town board and mayor at Monday night’s meeting and it comes after nearly seven months of work by administrators.

The proposed budget maintains the town’s current tax rate of 64 cents, provides an across-the-board pay hike of 2.5 percent for the town’s labor force and includes an approximate 3.6 percent water rate hike.

The water increase proposed in the budget will mean an extra $2.80 per month for the average household user.

It also includes an increase in solid waste fees from $16.60 per household per month to $18 per month per household. It is the first proposed solid waste fee increase in 14 years.

The proposed budget was put together based strictly on estimated revenue, said town manager Charles Brown.

The General Fund proposal totals $4,092,569. The water/sewer budget is set at $3,176,175.

The budget is now open for public inspection and can be viewed on any day from Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. at town hall. It is set to go back before the town board at its June meeting for public hearing and adoption. The budget becomes effective on July 1.

“This budget is a no frills projection of revenues and expenditures,” Brown told the board in his budget message. “The town has seen a continued decrease in available fund balance from the 2016-2017 year-end. Our unassigned fund balance as of June 30, 2017 was $370,072 or 9.01 percent of total general fund expenditures. The unassigned fund balance a year later was $164,341.”

As the town continues to reduce debt “we intend to work to build this fund balance with a goal of a 50 percent unassigned balance or six months of operating expenses in reserves,” he said.

The proposed budget is broken down as follows:

- Governing board, $169,343; town manager, $202,965; administration, $335,740; public works, $318,941; trash department, $449,990; planning/inspections, $124,901; municipal buildings, $222,347; police department, $1,572,878; fire department, $352,084; parks and recreation, $218,680; cemetery, $61.700; and, reserve, $63,000.

The water and sewer fund proposal asks $2,494,785 for operation and maintenance, $677,770 for debt service and insurance and $3,820 for reserve.

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