Spencer Board of Aldermen approves budget

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 27, 2017


SPENCER — Spencer’s Board of Aldermen voted to pass a 2017-18 budget just five minutes after beginning a public hearing Monday evening.

The meeting was sparsely attended, with Mayor Pro Tem Sylvia Chillcott and Alderman Kevin Jones being absent.

Bob Oswald was the only resident to come to the budget hearing and the only one to speak. He said he opposes the “after the fact” zoning fees that are designed to discourage residents from filling out proper forms after they begin a project. Residents who begin a project before getting required permits will have to pay an increased fee to do so. A zoning permit would cost $125, instead of the current $20, for example.

“I’m opposed to tax increases disguised as fees,” Oswald said.

Oswald used to serve on Spencer’s Historic Preservation Committee, and he said there was often not enough members at a meeting to reach a quorum, which meant that month’s applications got pushed back. In the meantime, residents were left in limbo — sometimes for several months, he said.

“That’s a problem, I think,” he said.

Oswald also pointed out that the town website’s most updated listing for a Historic Preservation Committee was in May.

“If you’re going to be imposing these rules and regulations on people, you want to have updated information that they can see,” he said.

The after-the-fact fees are as follows:

  • Zoning permit: $125.
  • Zoning permit for fences: $50.
  • Certificate of appropriateness: $250.
  • Dumpster permit: $50.

The town’s 2017-18 budget totals $3.1 million and has no tax increase. The current tax rate is 65.5 cents per $100 property valuation. The addition of Powell Bill funds brings the total proposed budget to $3.2 million.

The budget includes a 2 percent longevity pay increase for town employees and $400,000 in capital outlay for repairs to stormwater systems along Fourth Street.

Spencer’s police and fire departments will be getting new vehicles. The Police Department will purchase a cruiser for $33,000, and the Fire Department is receiving a firetruck from the Salisbury Fire Department. Once upfitted, the truck’s final price tag will be $45,000. Also included in the Police Department budget is a tentative, grant-funded $25,000 to purchase new weapons.

The budget appropriates a total of $110,000 from the general fund to purchase a backhoe for $85,000 and a street sweeper for $25,000.

Mayor Jim Gobbel said he felt there had been enough discussion of the budget at previous meetings, and the rest of the board agreed.

“I think Reid did a fine job here,” Alderman Howard White said of Town Manager Reid Walters.

Alderman David Smith made a motion to approve the budget as presented, Alderman Mike Boone seconded it, and the motion was unanimously approved.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.