Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Staff report
EAST SPENCER ó The Board of Aldermen will hold a public hearing Monday on a proposed 2007-2008 budget that would increase property taxes for the first time in more than a decade.
Water and sewer rates and garbage collection fees would also rise in the proposed budget which, at $2.25 million, represents an 8.9 percent increase over the current spending plan.
Town Administrator Richard Hunter told board members in his budget message and at recent workshops that the hikes are necessary to maintain service levels, keep up with rising costs and rebuild a fund balance depleted by overspending this year.
The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the town municipal building, 105 S. Long St.
Hunter proposes a 3-cent increase in the property tax rate, to 66 cents per $100 of assessed value. For the owner of a home valued at $50,000, that would mean a $330 tax bill, a $15 increase.
Hunter said in his budget message that the increase is necessary to maintain town services at current levels and that “no new service or significant expansion of existing service levels is anticipated.”
The water rate would go from $4.98 to $5.10 per month, while the monthly sewer rate would go from $5.98 to $6.22. Hunter’s message says those increases are a “direct pass through” from Salisbury-Rowan Utilities.
Monthly garbage collection fees would increase from $11.93 to $12.68, reflecting an increase in the contract with Waste Management, the company that picks up the town’s solid waste, Hunter said.
At their first budget workshop in May, Hunter asked board members to adopt a policy that explicitly says the town may have to adjust departmental budgets throughout the year to reflect actual revenue. He said some departments resisted that this year and a couple are projected to spend thousands more than originally budgeted.
Hunter said he hopes to replenish the town’s fund balance by spending less from the general fund than East Spencer takes in during the coming year.