New London Town Commission approves budget
Published 6:00 pm Saturday, June 16, 2018
Editor’s Note: The following article was written by Toby Thorpe, for the SNAP
A public hearing for and approval of the town’s fiscal year 2018-19 budget, updates to the town’s website and increased fees from the town’s waste and recycling contractor comprised the majority of business considered by the New London Town Commission at its regular meeting on June 5.
The meeting opened with a scheduled public hearing on the upcoming fiscal year’s budget. Mayor Tate Daniels noted three revisions that had been made to the document since the first reading on May 1. These changes included an increase of $4,000 for waste and recycling collections as a result of an increase in fees from the town’s contractor, Waste Management.
“The amount Waste Management charges the town for collection has increased $1.74 per home over last year,” said Daniels. “We really had no choice.”
Other increases included a $20,000 increase in office expense as the result of planned upgrades to the town’s computer hardware and software. A third revision, which had no effect on the bottom line expenses, was an increase of $300 for telephone expenses in the water/sewer budget, which was offset by an equal reduction in planned expenditures for legal and professional services.
Overall, the town budget projects revenues of $1,223,600 from General Fund ($801,100), Water/ Sewer Fund ($313,100), Powell Bill Funds ($102,050) and Cemetery Funds ($7,350). Projected expenses in each line are equal to expected revenues.
No public comments were voiced, after which the commission closed the hearing and moved into its regular meeting.
Following approval of the May 1 minutes, Mayor Pro-tem Bill Peak moved that the board accept the budget as presented. Commissioner Marcus Mullis seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.
Daniels then read the fiscal year 2018-19 budget ordinance, which keeps the town’s property tax rate at 16 cents per $100 valuation, the same rate the town has charged for some time.
“The tax rate has been 16 cents for at least the last 20 years,” noted Peak.
Commissioner Johnny Chesnutt moved to enact the ordinance, and Commissioner Dan Phillips seconded, followed by a unanimous vote in favor.
Town Administrator Susan Almond then gave the commission a visual tour of the town’s new website, which has not yet been released for public view.
“We were informed that our website has to be compliant with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act),” said Daniels, “and this revision will get us up to those standards.”
No specific date was announced as to when the new site would be up and running, and some minor revisions were suggested by commissioners prior to the site going live.
Almond also reported on the progress of the New London-Richfield-Misenheimer Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, which is being funded primarily through a grant from the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
“The steering committee is continuing to work toward completion of the plan,” said Almond, who noted some New London residents had expressed concerns about recommended bicycle lanes along Main Street.
“The study will still recommend bringing a bike route through town, but utilizing back streets instead of Main Street,” she said.
Daniels gave a report on the town park project.
“We are working with the architect to make revisions that will enable us to fit the park to the property, so to speak,” said Daniels. “We will be making some changes to the location of the park entrance and the location of parking within the facility.”
“Hopefully, we will have some construction underway by early 2019,” he added.
In addition, Daniels spoke briefly about the planned upgrades to the town’s computer system.
“This will be a major process,” he said. “We will replace the existing hardware first, and then software which is designed specifically for municipalities will be installed.”
The board agreed to reschedule its next regular meeting, which would have fallen on July 3, to June 26 at 7 p.m. As such, the commissioners will not meet during July.
In other business:
• Almond noted that renewal of the town’s general liability, public officials liability and workers compensation insurance, underwritten by the North Carolina League of Municipalities, would see a $522 reduction for 2018-19;
• Commissioners Christy Starnes and Mullis and Mayor Daniels were reminded that the filing period for municipal elections will run from July 6 to July 20.
• Peak reported that a battery had been replaced in the Oak Street sewer pump station, and that a canopy would be built at the Fiberon pump station.
• Chesnutt reported on a two code enforcement situations, noting that one has been passed to Stanly County for final disposition.
Toby Thorpe is a freelance contributor for The Stanly News & Press.