04/22/04 — Fremont audit shows town spent more than it took in

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Fremont audit shows town spent more than it took in

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on April 22, 2004 2:10 PM

FREMONT -- Fremont spent more money than it took in during the last fiscal year and lost money in its general fund and its water and sewer fund, an audit showed.

Greg Pittman, filling in for his father, Jim Pittman, the town's contracted auditor, presented the audit Tuesday to the town board.

Pittman said the general fund balance was reduced by $141,834 and noted that the town had spent $448,000 more than it had taken in.

"Revenues were not enough to carry on for the year," he said.

The enterprise funds -- the town's electrical and water and sewer funds -- lost a net of $209,135, the auditor said. But the water and sewer fund lost $352,223, and the electrical fund made $143,088.

The water and sewer fund, Pittman said, did not collect enough money to pay expenses. He suggested that the town increase revenue or decrease expenses.

Pittman also said the town staff was doing a better job and said the town's records were in good shape.

The retiring town administrator, Tom Barnes, said part of the shortfall was caused by the town's spending money that it has not received from the state.

Barnes had said that the 2002-03 budget was tight and was not sure if it could be met. This year's budget, he had said, was even tighter.

"I don't know what we can do," Mayor Devone Jones said Tuesday.

"We have problems," Alderman Billy Harvey added, "and we have a short time to address them."

Later, Alderman Harold Cuddington suggested several ways that the town could reduce its budget problems. He said the town should cut its use of gas and oil by picking up recyclables every other week and discontinuing bulk pickups, except during spring and fall cleanup campaigns. He also said the town should increase its tap-on fees.

CDBG project

In other business, David Harris, a community planner with R.S.M. Harris Associates of Goldsboro, suggested a fourth and final home for demolition in the town's scattered-site Community Development Block Grant project.

The board approved the request to replace a dilapidated home that was about to collapse at 614 S. Sycamore St. The owner qualified for a replacement, because he was elderly and disabled and lived a low fixed income, said Harris, the project manager. The home replaced a home on Martin Street, where the owner had died.

The homes approved earlier for demolition were at 816 S. Goldsboro St. and 202 Pender St. in Fremont and 408 S. Chestnut St. in Mount Olive.

Other business

The board and the mayor commended the public works and police departments for their work during the Daffodil Festival.

Public Works Director Tim Howell said 31 truckloads were collected from 285 locations during the spring cleanup week in March.

"Fremont looks good," said Alderman Leon Mooring.

He and others also thanked business owner Gene Fields for sprucing up several storefronts on East Main Street.

Police Chief Ben Reid said crime had increased in the last three months but that his officers "were doing the best we can with it." He announced that a Crime Watch meeting was scheduled for 7:30 p.m. April 29.

The board also:

*Granted permanent status, with a one-step pay raise, to Chief Reid, Police Officer Jonathan Hall and Lucky Lewis of the sewer department.

*Passed a resolution to authorize Mayor Jones to sign grant requests.

*Proclaimed May as Mental Health Month.

*Received a letter of thanks from resident Emily Gamble for the help of police officers in saving the life of her dog that was struck by a car.

*Heard two requests to stop speeding drivers.