ROSEBORO — As commissioners work to finalize budget plans for the 2015-16 year, the idea of raising water and sewer rates has been presented and tabled until further discussion.
During the monthly board meeting Tuesday night, commissioner and mayor pro tem Alice Butler introduced the idea to commissioners that the town needs to increase water/sewer rates by $1.50 per month, per service.
Roseboro’s current rates are $17 per month for up to 3,000 gallons of water and an additional $5 for each 1,000 gallons over. Sewer rates are $19 per month for the first 3,000 gallons and $5 for each 1,000 gallons over.
According to Butler, the board has been told by auditing services and the Local Government Commission that what the town currently charges isn’t enough to cover the total cost of the services provided to the town’s residents.
In comparison to other towns nearby, Roseboro’s rates are substantially lower. Considering the 3,000 gallon as a base limit, a Roseboro customer would pay $36 per month, while customers in Newton Grove are paying $45.60 and customers in Stedman are paying $58.50, for the same amount of usage.
“Based on our audit and the LGC, this is what we need to do,” Butler said. “We need to get in line with others.”
Butler’s recommendation didn’t come across well with other commissioners, as Richard Barefoot and Ray Clark Fisher shared their thoughts.
“Taxes in this town are high enough,” Barefoot stated. “We need to find the money from somewhere else. Just three of four years ago we went up $1.”
Butler agreed with Barefoot that the town’s taxes are high, but said she felt raising the water/sewer fees was the only solution to the town’s problem with the department’s budget.
Fisher, who says he is concerned with the audit report and LGC mandate, is questioning if raising the water rates will help with the town refinancing large debt items.
“What are we going to do since the LGC is mandating this,” Fisher asked. “Will doing this help us refinance?”
According to the town clerk, Tony Blalock, raising water/sewer rates will help with the town’s efforts to refinance large debt items in the town.
Barefoot continued to emphasizes his concern with raising the rates.
“We need to sit down and talk about this,” Barefoot said.
Other commissioners voiced their agreement with Barefoot, saying they too felt the discussion needed to be tabled until the commissioners could think about the issue more and try to find a different alternative for the board.
“This is something that needs a lot more thought,” Barefoot concluded.