06/22/05 — Fremont seeks money to pay its sewer bill

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Fremont seeks money to pay its sewer bill

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on June 22, 2005 1:45 PM

FREMONT -- The Fremont town board put off approving a budget for another week so it can find enough money to pay Goldsboro for its sewer bill.

Town Administrator Kerry McDuffie has proposed a budget for 2005-06 that maintains the current 65-cent property tax rate.

McDuffie suggested the town could find the $47,000 owed to Goldsboro by not replacing a full-time employee, taking money from the contingency fund and shifting money from other line items.

An employee in the public works department, Lucky Lewis, resigned in order to accept a better job, McDuffie said. By hiring two part-time employees and not paying benefits, the town would save $9,000, he said.

The town could shift $10,000 in surpluses from other line items and then pull $28,000 of the $33,000 in the contingency fund to pay the bill, McDuffie said. But he said he was trying to build up the fund balance to meet recommended state requirements.

Alderman Billy Harvey said the town's Public Works Department already is understaffed and added that he did not know how the town could find the money without cutting services.

Only one person, Annie Lewis, spoke during a public hearing on the budget. She asked the town not to cut funding for the town's clinic.

The board agreed to resume budget discussions Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

The aldermen also approved budget amendments for the 2004-05 year, shifting money in several departments.

Mayor pro tem

Alderman W.T. Smith was elected mayor pro tem in a 3-2 vote to replace the late Sylvester Artis, who died May 30. Smith was nominated by Leon Mooring and seconded by Harold Cuddington. Alderman Leroy Ruffin nominated Billy Harvey, and Mooring seconded the motion.

The board discussed replacing Artis and approved a motion to accept applications until July 12. Applicants must live in District 6 and be American citizens, at least 18 years old, without a felony conviction. The term expires in December, 2006.

New fire truck

Fremont will get a new fire truck after approving a $250,000 loan and a $40,000 grant from the U.S. Agriculture Department's Rural Development Fund.

McDuffie said the town has needed a new truck. No one spoke during a public hearing on the matter.

Area Rural Development representative Ed Causey presented the offer and noted that the grant was a significant number. He said the town will have a 20-year loan at 4.125 percent, the lowest rate in the program's history.

Causey said he had talked to McDuffie about the proposal and said, "It was easier to give him what he wants than to argue with him."

Other business

In other business, the board:

*Approved a resolution to support a countywide communications system.

*Requested a pedestrian crosswalk at U.S. 117 and Main Street.

*Learned that Black Creek had pulled out of a four-town merger of electrical systems, leaving Fremont, Lucama and Stantonsburg.

*Was notified by Police Chief Ben Reid that six of 41 junked cars had not been removed.