ansonrecord.com

Wadesboro Council nixes water, sewer rate hikes

Imari Scarbrough iscarbrough@civitasmedia.com

June 17, 2014

The town of Wadesboro voted on its budget during last Tuesday’s special meeting.


The fiscal year 2014-2015 budget eliminates a proposed minimum sewer rate increase of $1.13 (3.7 percent) and a proposed minimum water rate increase of $1.63 (10 percent). The increases were rejected after council members indicated that they would not be able to support a budget that increased fees for citizens.


To compensate for the loss of revenue the increases would have generated, the fund balance appropriation was increased by $115,000. In an email to the mayor and council members before the meeting, town manager Alex Sewell detailed the proposed budget and included a note of caution: “The potential consequences/concerns of this alternative are the same as ‘Alternative #1’ only greater,” he said. “These are using reserves at a greater rate, having sufficient cash flow given the already bare-bones budget, having sufficient cash flow given an unforeseen event, and the likelihood that a much greater increase in FY 2015-16 will be needed.”


The budget, known as “Alternative #2” to the council, includes the purchase of wood mulch for $5,000 rather than the purchase of rubber mulch for $22,000.


Although this budget strains the town’s finances even further, council members said the town needs to do what it can to fix matters itself. “We can’t keep going up on rates,” Councilman Jeremy Burr said. “It’s a lot on the elderly. We’ve done it for the last two years, and it’s hard for me to see us moving forward and raising rates again this year.”


Councilman John Ballard agreed. “We have issues, we know we have issues,” he said. “We’ve gone to the people as a well twice. Now it’s time to go to our well and pull from that.” Fellow Councilmen Fred Davis and Bobby Usrey also rejected the increases. Usrey suggested that the town continue to sell its surplus items on GovDeals.com.


The budget does not allow much room for emergencies, but the council decided to hold off on fee increases unless unexpected events call for an increase. In that event, the council may re-evaluate the budget decision. “I’m willing to go out on a limb and say let’s not raise the rates,” Mayor Pro Tem James Lee said. “Let’s hope for a good year.”