Tryon proposes budget with increases in water, sewer, garbage and other fees

Published 9:32 am Friday, May 20, 2011

Under a proposal submitted to Tryon Town Council Tuesday, May 17, the town’s budget for fiscal year 2011-12 could exceed $4 million without any change to the tax rate.
The proposal could, however, include employee raises and increases in water, sewer, sanitation and other fees.
Mayor Alan Peoples said not all of that would stay in the budget at the amounts proposed.
“Total dollars, I think it’s going to be a pretty accurate budget. You’ll see some things have to be moved from point A to point B,” Peoples said. “The tax rate will stay the same and I would love to have some money to put back in the fund balance this year.”
Town council plans to host a public hearing for the budget June 21.
One item that might be altered during budget workshops is employee raises. Peoples said he’d like to see something done for employees but he’s not sure the town can afford the proposed 3.5 percent cost of living increase. If approved that would be the first increase in 3.5 years, according to Town Manager Justin Hembree, and would amount to an additional $26,991 in expenditures.
Hembree’s proposal would also include a $200 Christmas bonus for employees. This addition translates to $15,423. Hembree said this would also drive up FICA and retirement costs per employee.
Hembree presented the $4,158,812 budget to council with no change in the current tax rate (47.78-cents per $100 valuation).
“The sales tax has sort of outpaced our projected numbers. Other revenues however are expected to hold steady – no major increases or decreases,” Hembree said. “I think that’s a reflection of several factors. The economy is starting to pick up a little bit and I think the town has done a good job of being good stewards…. The general fund is in pretty good shape.”
Where the town is not in good shape lies within the water and sanitation departments. Hembree said without rate increases, shortfalls would be imminent.
Based on current rates and revenue flow, projections show a $91,456 shortfall for the water cost centers and a $71,080 shortfall for the sewer cost centers. This could, according to Hembree, mean a hike of 9.6 percent for water rates and a 14.1 percent hike in sewer rates.
Effective July 1, residential water customers inside the town limits could pay $16.12 per 1,000 gallons compared to $14.71 they currently pay. Outside residential consumers would see their bills increase $3.10 from $32.50 to $35.40 and industrial customers would see their bills raise $118.73 per 300,000 gallons.
Sewage customers, meanwhile, would see the following increases: inside residential would move from $22.06 to $25.17 (a $3.11 increase), while outside residential would pay an additional $4.55 increasing their rate from $32.30 to $36.85.
Town officials said this would be the first rate increase in four years, driven primarily by the more than $3 million in new water debt and the increased cost of operations due to aging infrastructure.
The potential city budget also allocates $50,000 in capital outlay for replacement of the Lennox Road line, $50,000 in sewer collection capital outlay for repairs of the E. Howard line and bypass at sewer plant, $25,000 for new testing equipment and a portion of the bypass and debt service payments for the water plant rehab and interconnect project.
The town’s sanitation fund also faces a $12,776 shortfall this year. The budget would increase those rates by 6.6 percent.
Residential sanitation customers could expect their bills to increase by $1.20 from $18.16 to 19.36. Commercial GA would increase $3.22, commercial GB by $6.91 and commercial GC by an additional $11.05.
Other expenditures covered in the general fund for 2011/2012 included $15,000 for replacement of server and hardware costs for a computerized performance management system, $22,000 for replacement of in-car camera systems for the police department and replacement upgrade of computer/software systems, $54,574 for the purchase of a new backhoe, $7,000 for capital repairs at Rogers Park, $5,000 for dead tree removal and $16,000 for demolition costs associated with enforcement of the Minimum Housing Ordinance.
The Powell Bill Fund would cover $42,000 for the purchase of a drainage cleaning machine ($30,000) and ($12,000) for the Streetscape project.
There were no tax rate increases or capital outlays for the fire department or Harmon Field funds in the proposed budget.
Numerous fees in the town could also increase with the new fiscal year. See the chart above for a sample of those suggested increases.

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