02/16/05 — Fremont financial condition improving, auditor says

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Fremont financial condition improving, auditor says

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on February 16, 2005 2:03 PM

FREMONT -- Fremont is taking the right steps to get back on a sound economic footing, says the town's financial auditor.

Ray Pittman of Pittard, Perry and Crone made the comment Tuesday night during his annual report to the town board.

To balance its 2004-05 budget, the town board had increased the property tax rate by 30 percent and the water and sewer rate by 20 percent. The changes, Pittman said, were long overdue.

Pittman said Fremont had made about $18,000 on its electrical fund but lost $504,000 on its water and sewer fund in the 2003-04 fiscal year. He attributed much of the loss to capital improvements.

The town "didn't get in this financial trouble overnight, so it won't get out of it overnight," Pittman said.

He said the property tax rate, increased from 50 to 65 cents, should help.

Pittman said about 93 percent of the property tax was collected last year but admitted that the collection rate was low. He noted that Wayne County collects the tax.

Aldermen Billy Harvey said the auditor's report puts the town "in a better light than we have been."

"What you're saying," Mayor Devone Jones said, "is that we're still behind, but we're doing better."

Town Administrator Kerry McDuffie also told the board that Fremont has only $1,715.32 in its general fund.


McDuffie said new sidewalks on the first block of East Main Street are being constructed and should be finished in time for the Daffodil Festival on March 26.

Eleven new street lamps also are to be installed as part of a $432,000 project that included underground wiring in the same block and the renovation of Town Hall.

McDuffie also said several sidewalk sections have been added to the list of those that will be repaired in other parts of Fremont. The list totals 21 sections.

The town's spring cleanup day will be held March 16. Public Works Director Tim Howell said all bulk items must be at the curb by 7 a.m. that day.

Another town beautification project will have to wait. McDuffie said no Fremont homes will be repaired or replaced during Wayne County's next community development block grant. He said two homes in Mount Olive and one each in Pikeville and Dudley were included in the project.

Mowing bids

The town awarded the jobs to mow the grass in the two town cemeteries and other properties to the lowest bidders.

Thompson Landscape Management of Wilson submitted the low bid of $590 per cutting to mow the cemeteries. Gray's Lawn Service of Wilson submitted the low bid of $195 per cutting to mow the other properties, including the Community Building, town library and two parks.

Last year Fremont paid $920 for the cemeteries and $370 for the other properties.

Other business

In other business, the board:

*Appointed Alvester Lewis to the Planning Board to fill the unexpired term of the Rev. Robert Langley, who moved out of town.

*Passed an annual resolution of support for the Fremont Volunteer Fire Department.

*Authorized the town administrator to request proposals for liability and workers compensation insurance from other firms. The town now has insurance with the N.C. League of Municipalities.

*Discussed but took no action on McDuffie's plan to shift some money to a new firm that is offering slightly higher interest rate.

*Agreed to replace a manhole with a sealed manhole on Dr. Gibson Blackman's property.