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China Grove’s proposed budget would raise water and sewer bills for its customers

By Jessie Burchette
jburchette@salisburypost.comCHINA GROVE ó Water and sewer customers would see higher bills starting in August under the town’s proposed 2009-2010 budget.
In addition to a 5.5 percent increase in the sewer rate, all water and sewer customers would have to pay a new $10-per-month “account fee.”
The sewer rate would increase from $9 to $9.50 per 1,000 gallons. The water rate would remain at $8 per 1,000 gallons.
Adding in the new monthly account fee, a customer using 3,000 gallons of water in a month would pay $62. Currently, the town charges $51 for the 3,000 gallons.
The proposed changes would take effect in July and appear in the August bill.
According to Town Manager Bill Pless, the monthly fee will help the town make payments on millions of dollars owed on water and sewer projects.
Due to a drop in water usage, the town’s utility fund has been in the red for the past two years.
The proposed budget keeps the property tax rate at 38 cents per $100 valuation.
In his budget message to the Board of Aldermen, Pless wrote the town will use $44,500 from fund balance, or savings, to balance the budget.
Pless also noted the town’s unrestricted fund balance is now equal to 60 percent of a year’s operating expenses.
“While it has taken several years to do so, the town has finally reached a ‘comfortable’ level with its cash reserves,” Pless wrote.
In 2004, the town’s fund balance dropped to 11 percent, very close to the 8 percent minimum set by the N.C. Local Government Commission.
In other matters, the board will:
– Hold a public hearing on a request to rezone 10 acres at 379 Collins Road from industrial to suburban residential.
The property owner, Ernest C. Guthrie Jr., wants to build another house on the property.
– Hear a proposal from ALT Architecture on providing a detailed assessment of the town’s Public Safety Building on North Main Street.
The town is considering seeking a U.S. Department of Agriculture Loan for the project.
The firm’s proposed fee is $5,970.
The China Grove Board of Aldermen meets at 7 tonight in the Municipal Building at 205 Swink St.

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