01/22/06 — Fremont preparing to spend nearly $2 million on sewer system

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Fremont preparing to spend nearly $2 million on sewer system

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on January 22, 2006 2:04 AM

FREMONT -- Fremont is preparing to spend almost $2 million to continue to improve its sewer system. Most of the money will come from two grants.

Town residents, meanwhile, will have to dig a little deeper to pay their electric bills. The town board approved, with the mayor casting the tie-breaking vote, a 7 percent increase starting in late February.

The two actions came during last week's monthly town board meeting in Town Hall.

A special projects budget ordinance was passed to repair sewer lines from inflow and infiltration over the next 18 to 24 months. The budget will total $1,777,000.

Fremont received a $1,552,000 grant from the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund and a $200,000 grant from the N.C. Rural Center. The town will make a $25,000 match to pay for the project.

Town Administrator Kerry McDuffie explained that the project will include smoke-testing sewer lines, inspecting manholes, inspecting sewer lines with television cameras, monitoring sewer flow and mapping all sewer and water line and storm drains. When the problems are identified, he said, then they will start fixing them.

The project follows a $3.7 million project that included sewer lines from Fremont to Goldsboro and to Eureka and repairs to existing in-town lines. The project was completed in mid-2003.

The electric rate hike was debated for a while before a vote was taken.

"No one wants to increase electric rates," McDuffie said. "We understand their concerns, but the town would lose money every month and could not operate."

McDuffie said ElectriCities, which supplies the town's power, increased its price by .0074 cent per kilowatt hour. He said town power lines also lose about 7.2 percent of the electricity. The result, he said, was that the town needed to increase its rate by .008 cent per kilowatt hour.

One resident, Priscilla Cummings, spoke against the increase.

A monthly $50 electric bill would go up by $3.50, a $100 bill would go up $7 and a $400 bill would go up $28.

Aldermen Billy Harvey, Leroy Ruffin and Leon Mooring voted for the increase, and Aldermen W.T. Smith, Harold Cuddington and Annie Lewis voted against it. Mayor Devone Jones broke the 3-3 tie by voting for the rate hike.

The board postponed action on three other matters -- an engineering contract, a limit on outdoor advertising and the move of Ballance Park.

The board referred a new engineering contract with The Wooten Co. of Raleigh to its lawyer for review. McDuffie said he thought the contract would be approved in February.

Wayne County had asked Fremont and other municipalities to limit billboard advertising on freeways. McDuffie said the town already has that ban in its zoning ordinance and nothing else would be required unless the town annexes property or changes its zoning law.

The board leases Ballance Park and is considering moving it to town property, McDuffie said. The rent has been paid on the current park through April. In the meantime, the board will look at other options before making a decision.