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East Spencer will make water, sewer rate increase decision at meeting

Earlier this month members of the East Spencer town board asked for more information to help them decide if they should accept a recommended 8 percent increase in the town’s water and sewer rates.
The increase would see the water rates go up to $7.29 from $6.75. The sewer rate would increase from $6.75 to $7.29 and the solid waste collection fee would increase from $16.33 to $17.50.
Town Administrator Macon Sammons Jr. has said the town had not had a change in the billing cost since 2009. In the past, the town absorbed the cost of some rate increases from Salisbury for water and wastewater treatment.
Salisbury-Rowan Utilities provides contract water and sewer services to the town.
The town also used money from the general fund to offset the insufficient funds from water and sewer fund.
The board met Tuesday and received more data from Sammons and town staff.
Sammons told the board that staff had expanded the seven-year revenue and expenditure report to include expenses incurred by the town and Salisbury-Rowan Utilities.
A report said in fiscal years 2011 and 2012 there was modest net income, but in fiscal year 2013 and 2014 there was a loss because of repayments to the general fund, of water loss and collection issues.
The water and sewer fund was supposed to repay the general fund $64,400 in fiscal year 2014 but was unable to do so because of insufficient revenue. The general fund had to loan water and sewer another $50,000 in order to make the June 2014 debt payment.
Sammons has said even with a rate increase it would only give the fund about half of what’s owed to the general fund.
Staff also gave the board a five-year summary of the town’s water/sewer accounts as prepared by Salisbury Finance Manager Wade Furches. The summary goes through June 30. The board also received receipts and disbursements from Jan. 7, 2013, when the town took custody of the fund, through June 30, 2014.
The board will make its final decision about the proposed rate increase at its Sept. 2 meeting.
The board also discussed:
• Whether police, fire and other emergency departments would allow staff to take town vehicles home.
Mayor Barbara Mallett identified a committee that will work with the police and Sammons to craft a new policy. The board discussed this issue at their meeting earlier this month, but concluded there were two policies and both were different.
One policy says the chief would be permitted to take his police car home. At the center of the issue is whether the personnel would be those who had the potential to be called back in for an emergency.
Sammons said one ordinance was permissive while the other prohibited vehicles from being taken home.
He said the reason the town has two different policies is likely when they changed town personnel.
“There was a changing of the guard and it never happened,” he said.
Upon further study of minutes from a July 2011 meeting, then Police Chief Floyd Baldo asked for time for further study on the advantages.
• A public hearing at 6:30 p.m. during the Sept. 2 meeting to discuss a community development block grant. The town is looking to obtain the grant to help to fund projects for housing. The board will take suggestions for all potential projects in writing and verbally.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.

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