DOBSON — During a budget workshop following the Dobson Board of Commissioners meeting Monday night, Town Manager Josh Smith proposed that employees get a 3-percent cost-of-living pay increase and town residents’ services stay the same without any cost increase to most residents, and a few water users could see a rate decrease.
“Things are looking positive for 2012-2013,” said Smith.
One of the things Smith would like to see implemented in the 2012-13 budget, which is only in the preliminary stages, is to lower water rates for those using less than 1,000 gallons a month. He said that some elderly people in the community are paying a base water bill of $30 a month for using 2,000 gallons or less. However, he would like to see the board reduce the minimum payment for those using less than 1,000 gallons of water each month. The measure would save those residents about $5 a month.
In order to offset the decrease, Smith said he wants to increase the corporate rate from $1.70 per 1,000 gallons over 1 million gallons. He said he would like to see the board approve an increase of 20 to 30 cents, per 1,000 gallons over 1 million gallons.
Dobson’s only water customer using that amount of water is Wayne Farms.
“The cost of doing business has gone up, but the rate has not changed in several years,” said Smith.
Smith said the company is using about 14 million gallons a month.
“Our goal is to keep their water rate low for economic development purposes, but we still have to cover costs and not hold individual residents hostage,” said Smith.
Due to the town’s settlement with Mount Airy to purchase 200,000 gallons per month, Smith said the town will be paying Mount Airy about $190,000 a year for water in its 2012-2013 budget. However, Smith said, the town’s water and sewer fund’s expenses will be $160,675 higher in 2012-13.
He attributed that to an increase in the town’s water/sewer collection rate, which is at 98 percent now. He said that can be contributed to a renegotiation with Waste Management to provide the same garbage collection service the company was providing the town at about half the cost. Waste Management also is providing recycling for the town at no additional cost.
Smith said that a renegotiation with the town’s insurance company to reduce employees’ and the town’s rates was also a contributing factor in a more favorable budget.
Smith expects that property tax collection will be down 2.5 percent because of the recent tax re-evaluation. He said according to Surry County Tax Administrator Michael Hartgrove, Dobson’s re-evaluation will cost the town in property tax revenues in the upcoming budget.
In spite of those factors, Smith said he was able to reduce the town’s general fund budget by $23,000 in the 2012-13 budget over the previous fiscal year budget.
During the regular board meeting, there was a public hearing on a rezoning request. Robin Childress’ home burned on Jan. 3 on McGuffin Road. Since her land is zoned R-15, which is residential, she cannot put a manufactured home on the property. She is asking the board to rezone her land to residential agricultural so that she can put her mobile home on her land.
Childress addressed the board with tears in her eyes, pointing at her four children.
“I’m doing this for them,” said Childress.
The board could not vote on the matter, however, because the planning board that was supposed to meet at 5 p.m. did not have enough members for a quorum.
Deanna Henderson, with the planning and zoning department for the county, said she would try to get the planning board together so it could make a decision on the matter.
The Dobson Town Board agreed that it would hold an emergency meeting as soon as the planning board makes a decision so that Childress can get the home moved onto the property.
Marty Cook approached the board about flying the Confederate flag on Memorial Day at town hall. The board approved his request.
The board tabled a request from the Dobson Hornets softball league for funds because no one from that organization was present at the meeting.
Theresa Hutchens, chairman of the Dobson Cemetery Board, asked the board to consider having the cemetery surveyed in order to know where people can be buried in the future. She estimated that more than 400 people are buried there now, but without the survey, it is hard to know where people can be buried in the future. Hutchens said she believes there are about 125 graves available for those who want to be buried there.
The board agreed to discuss the matter as it approached the 2012-2013 budget.
In other business, Smith told the board that Ramey was the low bidder on the Prison Camp sewer extension project with a bid of $980,000, which is about $400,000 less than the town has for the project. The bid has not yet been awarded while the town is looking for more funding.
The project would provide water to Hope Valley, the Surry County Animal Shelter, Fisher River Park and to a new Department of Transportation building. However, Smith said, only about 10 to 12 water customers would be able to hook on to the new sewer line.
“It would take 500 years to recoup that at $30 a month per customer,” said Smith.
Smith said he would draft a letter to the NCDOT to see if the agency could provide additional funding for the project.
The board reappointed Gene Miller to the ABC Board.
The board recessed into a closed session to discuss negotiations on the purchase of real property. No action was taken when the board came back into open session.
After the meeting Smith reminded commissioners about the upcoming Spring Folly this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will feature local food, attractions for both kids and adults. There is no admission, except for kids who want to play in the bounce houses and ride the train. Those tickets will be $5 per child.
There also will be a motorcycle cruise-in during which prizes will be given out.
Reach Mondee Tilley at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 719-1930.