Budget raises cost of many things

pseligson@newsobserver.comJune 6, 2014 

Smithfield’s next budget would raise many rates, award merit raises to employees and lower transfers from the electric fund to general fund.

Smithfield residents can tell the Town Council what they think of the spending plan during a public hearing at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 11, at Town Hall.

To get a copy of the budget ahead of time, call Town Clerk Shannan Williams at 919-934-2116, Ext. 1008.

Here’s a recap of the proposed budget.

Rates, fees

The Smithfield Parks and Recreation Department would add a fee of $30 to $50 to prep ball fields for games.

The minimum fee for a storm-water permit would climb to $850 from $750.

Also, the annual storm-water inspection fee, which varies by lot size, would cost more. Here’s the breakdown: for lots under an acre, the fee would jump from $500 to $750; one to three acres, $750 to $1,000 and more than three acres, $1,000 to $1,250.

The cost of obtaining a water meter would jump too. For a 0.75-inch water line, the cost would climb slightly, from $90 to $95. For a three-inch water line, the price would jump from $1,795 to $2,020.

The fee for tapping onto the town’s water supply would also cost more – from $600 to $700 for a 0.75-inch pipe and from $1,475 to $1,900 for a two-inch pipe.

For public-records requests filled by the IT staff, the cost would go from from $10 an hour to $14 an hour. Also, people would no longer be able to bring their own CDs, DVDs or flash drives to get the public record. Instead, the town would supply one at cost.

The property tax would remain 57 cents per $100 valuation. Water and electric rates would not change.

Raises for employees

Employees would be eligible for merit raises.

Overall, the raises would total 2.5 percent of payroll, but individuals could see a higher or lower raise. Department heads would decide how to dish out the money. For instance, a department head might give an employee who went above-and-beyond a 3-percent increase and another employee only a 1-percent increase.

The raises would cost the town an extra $180,000. Merit raises last year totaled 4 percent. The last raise before that was in 2009 at 3 percent.

Health-insurance premiums would cost the town 13 percent more next year.

Electric fund transfer

The rtown would reduce the transfer from the electric fund to the general fund by $157,000, bringing the total below $600,000.

Repair, replace

For years, Smithfield put off buying new equipment and repairing buildings while the economy was bad. With more revenue coming into Town Hall this year, the town plans to make those repairs and replacements.

The budget calls for capital spending of $480,000 in the general fund, $1.3 million in the water and sewer department and $580,000 in the electric department

That includes:

•  $380,000 to make repairs and refit the water plant for ferric sulfate, a new chemical in the treatment process.

•  $942,000 in the water and sewer department for a sewer-vac truck, a truck for the crew leader, a mini-excavator, tank upgrades, a mulcher-shredder and automated metering.

•  $580,000 in the electric department for new equipment, including automated metering and a Chevy Volt paid for in part by a grant.

•  $35,000 in the finance department for new flooring, computer servers and office improvements.

•  $130,000 for five new police cars and $20,000 for 33 new police radios.

•  $79,000 in the fire department for new radios, pagers, a used SUV, five large hoses, training gear and rescue equipment.

•  $30,000 in the sanitation department for a new flatbed truck.

Seligson: 919-836-5768

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