Tryon approves budget with no tax, water, sewer rate increases

Published 5:42 pm Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Garbage, permit and zoning fees to rise

Tryon Town Council approved a budget for fiscal year 2011-2012 that includes no tax, water or sewer increases.

The new budget does include increases in sanitation rates. Garbage rates will rise $1.20 per month for residential customers, from $18.16 to $19.36 per month.

Tryon's new sanitation rates

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Commercial garbage rates will increase between $3.22 per month and $11.05 per month depending on the size of the service. Special sanitation pick-ups will also increase from $35 per pick-up to $50 per pick-up.

Council met Tuesday, June 21 and unanimously approved the budget for the next fiscal year, which begins Friday, July 1.

The budget proposal initially included increases in water and sewer rates, but during the town’s budget work session, council directed the manager to find ways to avoid those increases.

Tryon Town Manager Justin Hembree said by basing the enterprise fund on more actual revenues and making reductions in water and sewer expenditures, including not replacing some positions, increases in rates could be avoided.

A few water and sewer employees are retiring this year and the town will not replace those positions, including one position effective Oct. 1, 2011 and two positions effective Jan. 1, 2012, according to Hembree.

“I think Justin has done a great job of incorporating our requests without water and sewer increases,” said town councilman Austin Chapman.

Tryon's 2011-2012 budget

Councilman Wim Woody said he is still trying to get a reduction in the town’s tax rate but understands it is almost impossible at this point. He said he is pleased the town is holding the line on its water and sewer rates.

The town’s tax rate on the total $4,168,030 will remain at 47.78 cents per $100 of valuation (see chart for breakdown of funds).

The budget also includes some increases in permit and zoning fees. The fee to rent Rogers Park, for example, will rise from $100 to $115 for town residents and from $200 to $215 for non-town residents. Licensing fees for itinerant merchants will rise from $100 to $150, for peddlers of farm products from $25 to $35 and for peddlers on foot from $10 to $50.

Some planning and zoning fees will rise substantially, including a $100 increase in the fee for construction, repair or demolition of street or sidewalk. The fee for installing a wireless communications tower will go up $250, and the fees for final subdivision plats, rezonings, text amendments, variances and appeals will rise $200.

Council held a public hearing last Tuesday, June 21 prior to adopting the new budget and heard from one water customer, John Calure.

Calure said he lives outside city limits, so he pays the premium water rate. He said it may be legal to charge outside customers a higher rate, but it’s not moral and doesn’t make it right. Calure said in 1926 water lines were extended and he understands the town’s thinking then to charge higher rates to pay for the line since they couldn’t be taxed.

“I don’t know why we’re still paying that,” said Calure. “It doesn’t cost any more to send.”

Calure said he’s not asking for his rates to come down, but the rates for customers inside town limits should come up to match the outside rates.

“They should be equal,” Calure said. “I feel like a second-class citizen.”

Tryon Mayor Alan Peoples  said he recently spent some time going through the town’s water rates in 1957-1958, which were $3 per 3,000 gallons. He said applying inflation rates, the town’s rates now are less than what they were then.

Peoples later mentioned that the town has not increased taxes in 10 years and has decreased the tax rate twice in the last decade.