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Water, sewer fees going up in East Spencer

EAST SPENCER­ — In what became a compromise, the East Spencer town board approved an 8 percent rate increase on its water and sewer, but decided to keep landfill fees the same.
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, but the solid waste collection fee will remain the same at its current fee of $16.33.
“If we don’t need to raise the landfill rate, why would we?” Alderwoman Phronice Johnson asked.
It was Mayor Barbara Mallett who suggested the board consider not changing the landfill fees to the recommended $17.50 rate. She said it would be “a little bit of a relief.”
Mallett also broke a tie because the board was divided in their decision. Aldermen Curtis Cowan and John Noble as well as alderwoman Tammy Corpening voted against the rate increase. Alderwomen Deloris High and Phronice Johnson as well as Mayor Pro Tem Otis Gibson voted in favor of the increase.
The town has not had an increase in fees in five years, but with imposed rate increases by Salisbury-Rowan Utilities, the increased loss of water due to leaks, as well as issues with collection on active accounts, the board had no choice but to raise the town’s rates.
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.
In other business the board:
• Approved a rezoning request from Holmes Iron & Metal Inc., 629 North Long St., be changed from multi-family to industrial. No one spoke during a public hearing regarding the request.
• Tabled a rezoning request from Quentin Holmes and LaShonda Greyer for rezoning of property at 400 South Long St. from single-family residential to general business. The property has been used as commercial property in the past, but is being proposed to be a different type of business. The property is in the general business zone and will allow for retail operations, but not allow outside sales of items.
The board discussed the owners using the space for a flea market. However, based upon the zoning as it is currently the owners could only house an indoor flea market.
There was some issues with paving for a parking lot and making sure it’s uniform and in compliance with the town’s ordinance. Before the board can approve the rezoning request members first have to see if the paving is in compliance.
No one spoke during a public hearing for the request.
• The board will have a public hearing at 6:30 p.m., Monday to discuss a Community Development Block Grant for the town’s water infrastructure rehabilitation project. The town plans to apply for a grant to help with its water loss issues.
The board’s goal is to file an application by the Oct. 2 deadline, but first must hold two public hearings. The second public hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., Sept. 16.
According to Town Administrator Macon Sammons Jr., this grant would not eliminate the need for the rate increase, but it should help make the system more viable and financially sustainable.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.

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