ST. PAULS — A $4.3 million fiscal year 2020-21 budget that includes an increase in fees for water and sewer service and garbage collections was approved Tuesday by commissioners here during a special budget meeting at Town Hall.
Starting in July, customers will see a $1 increase in monthly base fees for water and sewer, and garbage collection. The new budget sets base water fees at $19 for the first 2,000 gallons used and $3.75 for every additional 1,000 gallons. Customers who use more than $5,000 gallons will pay $4.75 per 1,000 gallons.
Sewer rates will increase from $3.50 to $4.50 per 1,000 gallons. Customers will pay $29 for the first 2,000 gallons, and $4.50 for each additional 1,000 gallons. Customers who use more than 5,000 gallons will pay $4.90 for every additional 1,000 gallons used.
Garbage collection rates will go from $19 to $20.
The water and sewer fee increases will help pay for the repair and maintenance of the town’s water and wastewater collection systems, Town Administrator Rodney Johnson said.
Water reconnection fees will increase from $25 to $50.
The spending plan keeps the property tax rate at 65 cents per $100 of property value. That means the owner of the $100,000 home would pay $650 a year in property taxes.
Also included in the spending plan is $83,464 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to aid Hurricane Florence recovery efforts. The money will be used for expenses.
Also on Tuesday, the commissioners approved suspending recycling in the town effective immediately.
“There’s no money in it,” Mayor Elbert Gibson said.
The town averages less than two tons each quarter in recycled materials, said Benton Rogers, assistant Public Works director. It costs the town more money for Public Works to pick up the materials and dispose of them at a site in Fayetteville.
“It’s a losing battle,” Rogers said.
In a 4-2 vote, the commissioners approved charging residents an additional $5 a month for a second garbage can, bringing the fee for two cans to $25. The money raised from the fee will go to the Sanitation Department.
Commissioners Jerry Quick and John Gudauskas Jr. voted against the fee increase.
Quick, who said he uses only one trash container, previously made a motion to charge $10 each month for the extra trash can, and to allow residents to continue using the blue recycling receptacles. No action was taken on the motion.
The $5 monthly charge raised more questions for Gudauskas. Among those questions was how the town would keep up with enforcing the payments.
“I want to make sure it’s fair for everyone,” Gudauskas said.
The town will notify residents of the cost to use the blue recycling containers as an extra trash receptacle, Johnson said.
Salary increases of $2,500 each for Town Clerk Debra McNeill, Public Works Director Danny Holloman, and Rogers were approved Tuesday.
Mayor Gibson and Commissioner Donna Patterson spoke of the challenges of finalizing the budget for the current fiscal year and for 2020-2021. Among the challenges was trying to craft a 2020-21 budget while anticipating a 15% drop in sales tax revenue caused by the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s been a tough budget,” Patterson said.
Crafting the budget for a growing police department was another challenge, she said.
The town board will begin planning earlier for 2021-2022, Gibson said.
“This (finalizing a budget) will be done before the last of June,” Gibson said.