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June 30, 2010

Posted by allthingshavelock in Havelock News.
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Havelock approves budget

June 29, 2010 9:23 AM
By Drew C. Wilson
Havelock News

Havelock commissioners unanimously adopted a $15.7 million budget that includes various fee increases and what will amount to a property tax increase for most.

“We spent a whole lot of time trying to make it as easy as possible on people,” said commissioner Will Lewis, referencing concerns Havelock residents had expressed about the impact Craven County’s recent property revaluations would have on their pocket books.

The city’s old rate of .53 cents per $100 in property value was cut to 46.5 cents. Still, many will see an increase in their tax bills because of increased property values through the revaluation process. Revenue neutral, the rate that would have produced the same amount of revenue for the city as the previous year, was 44.5 cents.

Commissioners said the budget leaves the city at the bare bones in providing services for residents.

“We cut just about everything except for fire and police,” Lewis said. “We did sacrifice a lot in house.”

Commissioner George Liner pointed out that the board sent City Finance Director Lee Tillman and city staff back five times to make cuts and adjustments in the proposed budget.

“We put the staff through the wringer on this,” he said. “It’s not a perfect budget, but it’s the best budget for this board.”

Commissioner Danny Walsh, addressed those attending and looked into the cameras in place for the televised meeting.

“We argued a lot. We didn’t see eye-to-eye, but we came up with a budget with your help,” he said.

Walsh, who is mayor pro tem, conducted the meeting in the absence of Mayor Jimmy Sanders, whose mother died on Sunday.

For city customers, the budget includes a water increase of 6 percent, which includes a 2.6 percent Consumer Price Index adjustment. The sewer rate will increase 2.6 percent for the CPI adjustment.

Trash collection will rise from $11.00 to $13.25 largely to offset increased tipping costs incurred by the contractor, Waste Industries and also to pay for city costs associated with pickup of yard debris and bulk goods.

The $15,755,165 budget is about $40,000 less than the previous budget and leaves $9.6 million in the city’s reserve fund.

The board decided to spend $528,715 from the general fund to pay off project loans including $147,333 for ball field lighting, $39,938 for a phone system upgrade, $278,527 for new software and $62,918 for playground equipment. It was announced at the meeting that Craven County had obligated to pay $15,000 toward the field lighting costs.

Other expenses in the budget included $45,563 for the Havelock-Craven County Library, $4,000 for the Havelock Appearance Commission, $3,000 for the board’s discretionary funds, $500 for the Havelock Community Band and $2,100 for the art committee. The board had budgeted $2,100 for the Allies for Cherry Point, but added $2,900 more to bring the outlay to $5,000.

The board also approved a motion for $5,000 for ACT to use for publications for informational purposes concerning placement of F-35B squadrons at Cherry Point.

The Eastern Carolina Aviation Heritage Foundation was not funded, however, a promise was extended that if the group raised money, the board would match what funds were raised.

The board budgeted no money for the Havelock Historical Society or the Havelock Regional Development Commission.

In capital expenditures, the city has budgeted $120,843 for rehabilitation of the public safety building and $115,000 for a new EMS vehicle.

The budget does not allow for cost-of-living adjustments, employee career development, employee longevity or employee education reimbursement for city employees, but does not include furloughs for the city employees.

However, the board in a separate action did approve through its consent agenda a 2 percent merit increase for City Manager Jim Freeman.

In other business, the board:

• approved the annual write-off of uncollectible utility accounts totaling $15,027.

• approved a facility license for Patricia O’Rourke, massage practitioner, who will operate out of her home at 116 Karol Drive.

• reappointed Charles Zink to another term on the Havelock Board of Adjustment.

• reappointed Sonny Roberts, Henry Blot and Lockwood Phillips and appointed Jeremy Jackson to seats on the Eastern Carolina Aviation Heritage Foundation Board

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