06/02/10 — Fremont may raise water, sewer rates

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Fremont may raise water, sewer rates

By Laura Collins
Published in News on June 2, 2010 1:46 PM

The Fremont Board of Aldermen finally reached a budget its members could agree on at Tuesday night's work session.

The new proposed budget, which will be voted on at the town's June 15 meeting, calls for a 5 percent increase in the water rate and a 10 percent increase in the sewer rate. The budget also allows the board to adjust the rates at any point throughout the year if the town begins to fall behind. The new proposed budget, which was recommended by W.T. Smith and seconded by Harold Cuddington, does not result is a balanced budget, so several thousand dollars will have to be borrowed from the town's general fund and placed in the water and sewer fund to balance the budget. Board member Leroy Ruffin strongly urged that the budget also include a provision that no capital purchases can be made unless they are approved by the board or it is an emergency.

The 10 percent increase in sewer rates accounts for a 5 percent increase the city of Goldsboro placed on the town in July 2009 and then the proposed 5 percent increase the city is planning for this July. The 5percent increase in the water rate is much lower than what the proposed budget originally called for.

The budget first presented to the board last month called for a 17 percent increase in the water rate and an 11 percent increase in sewer fees. Overall, the increases would have cost the average household, which uses about 4,000 gallons of water per month, $9.54 per month. The town is losing money in its water and sewer fund, and while the proposed increases wouldn't have gotten the town out of debt, it was expected to stop it from going deeper in debt.

But board members decided against the higher increases. Some are hopeful the spray field project and the third phase of the sewer rehabilitation project will help the town save money throughout the year. The spray field, which should be in use in December, could save the town $80,000 annually, after costs are deducted. And Phase III of the sewer project should fix about 90 areas in the sewer system.

Board member Annie Lewis was the only one who voted against the new proposed budget.

"I'll tell you one thing that's going to happen, you're going to drive people out of town," she said about the increases.

But neither Annie Lewis nor board member Al Lewis offered any other budget options or solutions during the hour and a half long work session while percentages were being discussed. Board member Cuddington briefly spoke at the meeting saying it was "not on his heart" to raise taxes.