05/26/05 — Walnut Creek holds line on utility rates

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Walnut Creek holds line on utility rates

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on May 26, 2005 1:45 PM

WALNUT CREEK -- No residents spoke at Wednesday's hearing on Walnut Creek's proposed 2005-06 budget.

But village officials still decided to give them a break next year by removing a proposed increase in monthly utility bills.

The village will have to pay the city of Goldsboro 15 percent more, beginning in July, for treating its wastewater, Village Administrator Lou Cook said Wednesday. The Village Council had considered increasing utility bills by at most $5 a month.

But the village will have to switch in 2006 from a flat rate for sewer service to rates based on usage, which could be more expensive for some residents, Cook said.

"We're not going to increase utility bills this year, but we need to recognize that next year might be a different matter," Cook said.

Sewer rates will need to be based on water meters. By delaying a year, residents will have a chance to have private, shallow wells dug for irrigation, swimming pools and other uses and keep their utility rates low, Cook said.

The proposed 2005-06 budget is balanced on a 36-cents-per-$100 property tax rate, the same as this year. That would mean the owner of a $275,000 house, the median value, would pay $990 in village taxes, in addition to Wayne County taxes.

The village expects to receive $885,050 in revenues next year, slightly up from last year due to the construction of new homes. The utility fund is expected to be $277,330.

The budget does not include new programs or employees. Current staff would get a 4-percent cost-of-living increase.

The budget includes $30,000 to develop recreational uses, such as walking trails, on property acquired during the flood buyout.

The council is also planning to set aside $50,000 for the eventual construction of a town hall. Earlier this year, Partin-Hobbs Architects delivered plans for an expandable, nearly 4,000-square-foot building that would house the council's chambers, the police department and offices for village staff. The first phase will cost around $400,000.

The Village Council plans to approve the budget at its June 22 meeting. The fiscal year begins July 1.