05/22/06 — Pikeville might see higher water bills

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Pikeville might see higher water bills

By Turner Walston
Published in News on May 22, 2006 1:47 PM

PIKEVILLE -- Residents might not see higher property taxes in Pikeville next year, but their water and sewer bills could show an increase, town officials are saying.

The proposed increases are mostly due to the operation of the town's new $5 million wastewater treatment plant. Pikeville's water and sewer budget increased by nearly $50,000, town administrator Bob Buchanan said.

"I think it's around $213,000, where it had been $164,400," Buchanan said.

Currently, residents pay $6 per 1,000 gallons, plus a flat $8 fee for sewer in Pikeville.

"I think when you compare the rate to other communities about our size, our rates are a lot lower right now," he said.

Buchanan said sewer rates might have been too low in previous years, when a slight increase could have had the town setting money aside gradually to be used for the construction of a new wastewater treatment plant.

"We probably should have budgeted a little bit more year to year," Buchanan said.

Town employee Perry Jones is training with Envirolink to operate the the new plant. "Once he gets his training, he will be operator in charge of the facility," Buchanan said. Jones could complete training by December, and money set aside for that would be freed up for other uses.

"You've got to pay for the overhead associated with the plant," Buchanan said.

Buchanan said electrical costs at the plant are about $3,000 per month. The administrator said he is working with ElectriCities to possibly use the plant's generator during "high demand periods."

Buchanan said he is soliciting bids on garbage pick-up contracts with outside companies as part of the new budget. He said the town's current pick-up involves three employees, twice a week.

"That's a full person a week, is what it amounts to," Buchanan said. "It just ties our hands."

If garbage pick-up is contracted out, those town employees could then be re-assigned to Parks and Recreation or Streets departments, and the town's garbage truck could be sold, Buchanan said.

"It'll probably result in about a wash," Buchanan said.

In capital outlay, Buchanan said he would like to purchase two lawnmowers, a tractor and street sweeper for the town.

"That'll last us for a while," he said.

Buchanan also said he hopes to contract with inmates from Neuse Correctional Facility to clean streets and clear ditches in the town.

Buchanan said he has not finished crunching the numbers on the town's general budget, but did not anticipate higher property taxes, which currently stand at 50 cents per $100.

"I don't see that there's going to be any necessity for an increase in property taxes," he said.