The City of Clinton’s 2014-15 budget was adopted in short order Tuesday night during a special meeting, at which recreation naming rights and a water plant expansion bid were up for consideration — both issues will be taken up again in July.
“We have met, we have held a public hearing and a lot of hard work has gone into this,” Mayor Lew Starling said of the budget.
The 2014-15 adopted budget, which received a unanimous Council nod, totals approximately $13.7 million for all city operations, capital improvements and debt service requirements. That is about $1.14 million, or 7.7 percent, less than the 2013-14 amended budget.
“The budget is fiscally sound, and although it does not fund all the requests made by departments or external agencies, it does address the top priority needs of the city and will allow us to maintain a high level of service for Clinton citizens,” city manager Shawn Purvis stated in his budget message.
The tax rate will remain at 40 cents per $100 valuation.
Included in the budget is a 1.5 percent hike in water and sewer rates, specifically an increase in water base rates from $12.19 to $12.37 and sewer base rates from $12.70 to $12.89. Water and sewer consumption rates also rise from $1.83 to $1.86 and from $1.78 to $1.80 per 100 cubic feet, respectively, under the plan.
The increase will bring the average bill to $45.71 for 5,000 gallons of water and sewer use, city officials said.
“That is a nominal increase. It is going to be very small for homeowners,” Purvis has noted. “It does keep us up with inflation and it does help us prepare for the upcoming projects, almost $5 million on the water plant, the Southwood tank and the (utilities) with N.C. 24 expanding and (costs associated) if Chemtex comes to fruition.”
All of those projects mean close to $10 million.
Additionally, the budget includes $150,000 from fund balance for capital expenditures, specifically $50,000 for a new fire engine and the remaining $100,000 for other vehicles and equipment.
Grave sites will now be a flat rate of $600 for inside and outside city residents, and there will be a $450 cost for the use of new columbaria niches at city cemeteries, according to the budget.
In addition to vehicle requests to update the citywide fleet, other budget highlights include $171,500 for street resurfacing; $50,000 to construct sidewalks along Barden Street; $1.7 million to replace water lines throughout various city neighborhoods; and $2.4 million (USDA loan) for the water plant and well site expansion, half the entire $5 million project cost.
The entire expansion project will take about 18 months to complete and will be over the course of two budget cycles. The Southwood elevated tank, for which the city previously received a zero percent interest $1.77 million state loan, will be constructed at the same time as the water production expansion project.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the Council:
• Presented a proclamation of respect for former Sampson Commissioner John A. Blanton, who passed away earlier this month.
• Continued discussion on potential adoption of Clinton Recreation Department naming rights’ policies and procedures. The policy formalizes the process and amounts associated with the naming of recreational facilities such as fields, playgrounds, courts, walking trails and other amenities. The naming rights would provide revenue to fund renovations and additions to the parks. Rec director Jonathan Allen made a presentation on the potential of eight-year terms for those rights at Tuesday’s meeting, however nothing was approved. Talks will resume next month.
• Tabled a bid award for the initial phase of the water plant expansion. Approximately two weeks ago, the city had its bid opening for the initial phase of the water plant expansion project. Skipper’s Well Drilling & Pump Service of Leland was the low bidder for the project, with a bid in the amount of $447,400. The bid was not awarded as some federal word was still being awaited. It is expected to be awarded in July.
“We’re actually waiting on USDA for one more comment to make sure everything is in compliance,” said Purvis.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121. Follow us on twitter @SampsonInd.