PILOT MOUNTAIN — After Pilot Mountain’s town manager proposed three budgets for fiscal year 2012-13, commissioners approved the one that included a 10-percent increase in the town’s water rate.
The board also approved a 2-cent increase in property taxes, but according to Town Manager Homer Dearmin, since the town’s tax revaluation came in lower this year, it’s actually a flat rate for residents. Now the rate is 58 cents per $100 of valuation.
The board was met with resistance at its May 18 budget meeting from a resident who opposed the water rate increase. Another resident spoke out in opposition to the proposed increase at the budget meeting that was held at 5 p.m. Monday before the board’s 7 p.m. regular monthly meeting.
During the vote on the budget approval, Commissioner Gary Bell abstained from voting, but according to North Carolina meeting law, that counted as an affirmative vote. After the meeting, Bell said he wanted to vote no on the budget.
The budget that passed included $1,352,295 in the town’s general fund and $698,645 in the town’s water and sewer fund. The total revenue in the budget is $2,209,490.
Mayor Earl Sheppard was clear with those present that the town had not increased its water rates for customers from 2001 to 2009. He said if the town had increased its rates every year over that time frame, that would have meant a 2-percent increase per year.
The town is now paying $13,000 a month for water and sewer lines that were installed in 1997 after the town was being fined daily by the state for letting too much wastewater in a creek. The town incurred a $1.4 million debt that it is still paying for now.
Sheppard said that debt will be paid off in 2017. He also stressed that shortly after the lines were put in, the town’s biggest water user, Armtex, shut its doors. The town had been using funds from its general fund to subsidize the water and sewer fund, but after a letter from the state warned about this practice, the town is now repaying money to its general fund.
After the meeting, Dearmin said the average water customer pays $82.23 every other month for water, sewer and garbage pick-up. With approval of the budget, that rate will go to $88.59 a month on average, which breaks down to $44.88 month. Sheppard said the increase will be about $5 per month for most users.
Also during the meeting, it was announced that the town will start providing curbside recycling to residents starting in Sept. 1. Waste Management worked with Dearmin and will be providing the service to the town for $2,000 more a year. Recyclables such as glass, cardboard and plastic will be placed in green roll-out containers with yellow lids, Dearmin said.
“This is something that we really needed,” said Sheppard.
Pick-ups for the curbside containers will be bi-weekly.
The town hired Attorney Ed Woltz to be its new town attorney. Woltz wasn’t at last night’s meeting, however Dearmin explained that the town will be hiring him for 32 hours of service a year in a cost-saving effort.
In other business, Dearmin asked the board to let town employees take Veterans Day off and half a day off for Mayfest. In the past, employees were required to work on Veterans Day, Dearmin said. The board approved the request.
The board also voted to reappoint Arthur Marion to a four-year term on the planning board.
In addition, the board approved a resolution in appreciation of former County Manager Dennis Thompson who recently retired. There will be a reception for Thompson on Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at his former office in the county’s government building in Dobson.
“He lives here in town. We will miss him in Dobson, but we are happy to have him here,” said Sheppard.
Reach Mondee Tilley at email@example.com or at 719-1930.