The Wadesboro Town Council adopted the 2012-2013 budget Thursday.
The total budget is $7,284,890. The property tax rate, sewer rates and garbage pick-up rate will stay the same. The minimum outside water rate will go up from $15.49 to $18.90. The residential and commercial minimum water rate will go up from $11.55 to $14. The new budget will take effect July 1.
Councilman Bobby Usrey objected to a capital outlay for two new police cars. The purchases were part of a long-term plan previously adopted by the council to have one car for each patrolman. The plan is supposed to eventually lead to more predictable, spread out replacements while improving longevity of the cars and creating accountability for the drivers. Wadesboro Police Chief Janie Schutz said the provision could also offer a small incentive for new hires who can find better pay elsewhere.
“These vehicles sit half the year,” Usrey said, referring to the fact officers work 12-hour shifts. “I’m totally opposed to purchasing any more police vehicles.”
He said the money from the vehicles should be used to give town employees a 2.5-percent raise.
Town Manager John Witherspoon said not purchasing the vehicles would “kick the can down the road.”
Schutz pointed out that many of the vehicles had been purchased with funds from drug seizures. She said the department could survive without them and understood the council was coping with tough times financially.
Usrey said the town should start saving for a new fire truck and that the current one used to respond to residential fires was about 26 years old. Head of Public Services Hugh James said the town had recently had difficulty finding a replacement part for the truck because the part was no longer manufactured.
The budget amendment to use the money for the raise instead of the vehicles passed unanimously.
A local Internet cafe owner and a manager attended the meeting in protest of a recently enacted tax on Internet cafes. A tax on cafes was passed June 4 at a rate of $25 per location and $500 per machine. The rates go into effect July 1.
Barbie Britt, the owner of Diamonds 1, 2 and 3 in Wadesboro, and Carol Allen, a manager, attended. Britt said she was moving the machines out because she could not afford to stay open with the new tax.
“People don’t usually gamble in the summer,” she said. The move could impact 20 jobs.
She contacted Usrey, Councilmen John Ballard, James David Lee and Jeremy Burr about the move. The tax passed with a vote of 3-2, with Usrey and Lee voting against it. Councilman Fred Davis pushed to up the tax to $500 from Witherspoon’s proposed $350 tax.