02/20/11 — Fremont looks to trim 2011 budget

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Fremont looks to trim 2011 budget

By Gary Popp
Published in News on February 20, 2011 1:50 AM

FREMONT -- Town officials discussed strategies for the Town of Fremont to cut costs at a Board of Alderman meeting this past week.

An audit presentation reinforced what many residents already know -- improvements are needed in the town's solid waste infrastructure.

"Our water and sewer funds are still struggling, primarily because of the rain water that seeps into the sewage," Town Administrator Kerry McDuffie said. "Rain water gets in, and we pay the city of Goldsboro to treat the rainwater."

McDuffie said the town collected $529,000 in sewer fees last year. In the same year, Fremont paid $504,000 to the City of Goldsboro for processing the sewage.

Fremont was left with only $25,000 to cover the remaining costs of payroll, equipment, maintenance and the electricity to power lift stations.

The budget for the sewer department this year is $498,000 -- more than $30,000 less than what was needed for last year's budget.

McDuffie plans on bridging the gap by implementing a new technique to manage solid waste. The new system sprays the sewage on a field near town after it is processed in Fremont.

The spray field technique has the capacity to spray up to 91,000 gallons of processed sewage after it is treated for approximately 270 days and mixed with chlorine.

McDuffie expects to have the spray field technique functioning before this summer.

The town board also approved a resolution limiting the use of town-owned vehicles as a way to cut down on costs.

Town employees who are provided a vehicle to take home include the Public Works Director Tim Howell and the police chief.

Since the town is currently in the process of searching for a new chief, board members wanted to pass a resolution before someone takes the job.

The new resolution will not allow the new police chief to take the vehicle home if the chief lives a mile beyond the town's limits.

The resolution contained a grandfather clause that will allow Howell to continue taking home his town-owned vehicle even though he lives beyond the town's limits.

In closed session, the board found another way to lower costs in succeeding years. After returning to open session, the board voted unanimously to not to renew a contract with the Utility Service Co., the company that has maintained the town's 300,000 gallon water tank since 1996.

Officials expect to save about $3,500 a year by switching to a new company, McDuffie said.

McDuffie said Utility Service Co. billed the town about $10,850 last year and intends to increase the price of services to nearly $12,400 in the coming year.

McDuffie said the water tank, which was built in 1991 and sits 130 feet off the ground, must be maintained, inspected, cleaned and painted by an outside service company

The interior of the tank is painted about every seven years and the exterior about every nine years.

Fremont Mayor Devone Jones says he expects the board to make more cuts as the new budget is prepared.

"We are going to be working on the budget for the next two months. We have to cut back some," Jones said.

Jones said he was unable to say in which areas or to what extent cuts will be made.

"In the past, whenever we did the budget we cut in many different areas and we plan to do the same this year," Jones said. "We have to cut back just like people do in this tough economy."