05/24/04 — Mount Olive's proposed budget less than current year

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Mount Olive's proposed budget less than current year

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on May 24, 2004 1:57 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Next year's proposed budget for the town of Mount Olive is about $30,000 less than this year's.

The budget totals about $2.44 million. It includes no tax or rate increases. Town Manager Ray McDonald said he plans to ask for a vote on the budget on June 7.

The proposed budget includes a 5 percent pay increase for all town employees.

It also has salary adjustments for 15 police officers. That would put the starting salary for a police officer at $24,600, an increase of 7.5 percent. McDonald said the adjustments bring them closer to the average salary for officers in towns of similar size.

Town employees will pay a higher deductible on health insurance in the proposed budget, but lengthy stays in the hospital will be less expensive, says McDonald. The deductible goes from $500 a year to $2,000.

The water and sewer fund this year had $1.56 million in revenues and $1.44 million in expenditures, but the surplus can't be moved into the general fund. The $118,000 difference will be used to start paying off the loan for sewer upgrades.

The town commissioners voted during a budget workshop Friday to allow the Public Works Department to buy a new backhoe to replace one that is old. The town will enter a lease-purchase agreement at $15,000 a year for five years.

The board also approved a resolution supporting Mt. Olive Pickle Co.

"I'm not too proud of our Methodist Church," said Lloyd Warren, who moved to pass the resolution. He asked that the voting delegates to the church's next annual conference rescind action taken this year supporting a labor union's boycott of the company. The town board's vote was unanimous.

The general conference didn't hear the whole story about the situation, says the resolution. The Farm Labor Organization Committee, a part of the AFL-CIO, wants the company to force cucumber growers to negotiate union contracts for its farm laborers. Company officials say they couldn't do that even if they wanted to.

The company treats its employees fairly and is generous to the community, says the resolution. It continued, "While we as town commissioners regret the inequities suffered by some farm workers, we do not endorse the unfair campaign raised against Mt. Olive Pickle Co., because it has chosen not to align itself with FLOC's unionized efforts."

In other business, the board voted to approve a subdivision plat for the first five lots on N.C. 55, west of town, for E.J. Bundy. The board also approved the installation of a larger sewer line for the Tillman Street area. McDonald said the area floods every time it rains more than two inches. The work will be done with part of a $3 million state grant for sewer upgrades.