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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

May 21, 2010

Posted by allthingshavelock in Havelock News.
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Board to hear from residents on budget

Proposal includes higher trash fee

May 18, 2010 4:13 PM
By Drew C. Wilson
Havelock News

The Havelock Board of Commissioners will hear comments from residents on the proposed 2010-11 budget during its meeting on Monday night.

The proposed $15.4 million budget includes what amounts to a property tax increase as well as proposed water and sewer rate increases, and an increase for trash collection.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at Havelock City Hall.

During a budget work session this week, commissioners discussed a $2.25 increase for trash collection that would bring the total cost to $13.25 per residence. The program began in 2008 with an $11 monthly fee.

Dan Harbaugh, public services director, told the board during a budget workshop that the city’s customers are getting a real high level of service for that fee, but that there may have to be adjustments to collection of yard waste and bulk goods.

Of the current $11 fee, $8.43 per customer was initially paid to Waste Industries to make weekly pickups of trash. The remaining $2.57 was intended to pay for costs associated with the city’s collection of yard waste and bulk goods, such as old refrigerators.

However, an increase in landfill fees last year prompted city payments to Waste Industries to increase to $8.60 per customer and whittled away at that $2.57.

The city did not increase trash fees, but more landfill increases has caused another 17-cent increase per customer this year.

“As the landfill goes up we pay more. That’s the bottom line,” said Dave Harvell, assistant city manager.

To make matters worse, the Consumer Price Index went up 2.6 percent, which will increase the fee another 13 cents as of July.

In July, the city will be paying $8.90 per customer to Waste Industries.

Havelock has had to take money out of its reserve fund every year to finance the operation of the trash program, but city officials would like to ultimately charge customers enough money to make it self-sustaining.

“We’re not putting aside enough money for the enterprise fund in order to make it self-supporting,” Harbaugh said. “We have to address it.”

Commissioner Danny Walsh said he would rather increase trash fees than taxes.

“If I have a choice between raising trash or raising taxes, I’d prefer to raise trash,” he said.

The proposed budget includes a tax rate of 47.5 cents per $100 in property value. That is below the current rate of 53 cents. However, with county property revaluations this year, the tax rate would amount to a 3.5-cent property tax increase over the revenue neutral amount of 44 cents.

Also at issue in the budget is decreased revenue in Powell Bill funding generated from state gasoline taxes. The money is used for street, sidewalk and drainage projects in the city.

The city has been spending more on such projects than the amount of Powell Bill money that has been received.

“A goal of this board is to stop spending in excess of the Powell Bill funds,” Mayor Jimmy Sanders said. “The bleeding needs to stop.”

Harbaugh said four city workers that collect yard and bulk waste are being taken away from work they could be doing on Powell Bill projects.

“I’ve got a real management nightmare,” Harbaugh said.

Commissioners discussed the possibility of reducing the frequency of yard debris and bulk waste pickup as a solution.

One of the main goals of the new trash program was to “clean up” the city of debris that was not being collected on a regular basis.

“The town’s cleaner,” Commissioner Jim Stuart said. “I’m tickled to death with it, but we’re now finding out what the cost is.”