City proposes small hike to water, sewer fees for 2016-17

By Chris Berendt -

As massive water and sewer projects inch closer, the City of Clinton is preparing for those endeavors and again proposing a nominal rise to local utility bills.

During a recent meeting, City manager Shawn Purvis led the City Council through the state of the Water and Sewer Fund and challenges facing the city, including large expenditures for the upcoming budget as well as future years.

In the Water and Sewer Fund, the N.C. 24 Industrial Park utilities will account for $400,000 in next year’s budget. Utility line equipment replacement will mean $350,000 more and the rehabilitation program will be funded $200,000 a year for the next five years.

In addition to the $200,000 utility line maintenance, the city is proposing the addition of a one-ton truck for maintenance at a cost of $40,000, as well as a $350,000 sewer vac truck, which will be financed.

An oft-discussed and long-awaited wastewater treatment plant and well expansion is budgeted in the amount of roughly $4.8 million in 2017-18, while the bulk of the expense for the N.C. 24 expansion utilities ($2.3 million) and N.C. 24 Industrial Park utilities ($3.17 million) projects are scheduled for funding in 2018-19, along with the $500,000 for the Pierce Street expansion utilities in the area of Royal Lane Park, an add-on project accompanying the N.C. 24 (Sunset Avenue) expansion.

To offset some of the upcoming project costs and keep the Water and Sewer Fund stable, a nominal increase to water and sewer fees has been floated. Under Purvis’ proposal, water base rates would rise from $12.56 to $12.62 and sewer base rates from $13.08 to $13.15. Water and sewer consumption rates would be just a penny more over the current rates, from the current $1.88 to $1.89 for water usage per 100 cubic feet and $1.83 to $1.84 for sewer.

In all, Purvis projected that with the proposal, the average household (800 cubic feet usage) will pay just 26 cents more per month, or $3.12 more annually, from $49.68 to roughly $49.94. Large households using 1,600 cubic feet will see a rise of 42 cents, from about $79.36 to $79.78 per month, just over $5 more for the year.

The proposed half-percent utility fee hike is anticipated to boost revenues by $16,000. The utility rates were raised 1.5 percent for the current budget.

The City of Clinton’s Water and Sewer Fund Balance policy is to maintain 47-53 percent of expenditures in fund balance. Any amount in excess of 53 percent is transferred to the capital reserve fund, whose balance currently stands at $268,200.

Also as part of the budget, merit increases of 1.3 percent are being mulled for employees, which would mean an additional cost of $9,200.

The proposed 2016-17 budget will be submitted to City Council for review next Tuesday, May 31. Purvis will make the budget presentation at the Council’s regular meeting on Tuesday, June 14, during which a public hearing will also be held. The budget is tentatively scheduled for adoption on Tuesday, June 21.

Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

By Chris Berendt

Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

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