Kure Beach To Hold Public Hearing On Proposed Budget; Utility Fees Going Up

Kure Beach To Hold Public Hearing On Proposed Budget; Utility Fees Going Up Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 27 May 2015 04:00

Managing Editor

KURE BEACH - The Kure Beach Town Council will hold a public hearing June 4th, at 6:30PM at Town Hall to hear public input on the proposed budget for the upcoming 2015-2016 fiscal year which starts July 1st.
The Council was presented with the recommended budget at their May 19th, meeting. No property tax increase was proposed. The proposal does recommend adjusting water and sewer rates increasing cost for  some customers while aiming to lessen the impact on those living on fixed income such as senior citizens.
Currently users pay a monthly base rate for 3,000 gallons of water consumption and sewer treatment. The proposal recommends leaving the monthly base-rate unchanged while reducing the allowance from 3,000 to 2,500 gallons.
For those who don't exceed the monthly minimum, they would see no increase in their bill. For someone who uses 3,000 gallons, their bill would increase $5.15 (13.9%). For 4,000 gallons, $7.20. For 9,000 gallons, the increase would be $9.25 per month.
Finance and Budget Officer Arlen Copenhaver explained, "The budget does include changes to the existing water and sewer rate structure. It includes $112,000 for possible infrastructure projects and $90,000 for capital expenditures for equipment and a truck. It also includes debt service of almost $110,000. It does include a transfer of $50,000 to the water and sewer capital projects fund for a water line replacement project" that will start in 2016. He said the the water and sewer fund budget is %15.9 greater and, "That really has to do with the capital expenditures and also the transfers to the water and sewer capital projects."
Copenhaver said an additional $8,690.00 goes towards salary adjustments made based on a recent salary study.
He said water and sewer charges are the bulk of the revenue for the fund at %94 of revenues for that fund. He said, "Currently in the water and sewer fund, the revenue covers the day to day operating expenses. It's accumulating some but very little for future infrastructure projects. Since the water and sewer fund is considered an enterprise fund - meaning it's really operated as a business - the fund revenue really needs to cover the operating cost plus build a reserve for future capital projects."
He explained, "This first item would be to reduce the monthly minimum number of gallons from the currently level of 3,000 gallons to 2,500 gallons. The second part would be to leave the monthly minimum rate unchanged in regards to dollar amount. The change is that now it gets you 2,500 gallons verses 3,000" for a flat rate each month.
He explained, "The third part is to actually change the rates for once you exceed the minimum which is the now 2,500 gallon minimum. All of the
 rates are increased for residential and commercial... approximately a %25 increase in those incremental rates per 100 gallons of usage above the 2,500 gallon minimum."
Councilman David Heglar said, "Really the strategy kind of stays with the strategy we've adopted with our rate structure. We're really trying to encourage conservation. As
we do our rate structure, I think it's important for us to continue to focus on that. I think this does it two ways."
Heglar said, "We talked a lot about the rate structure for the people that are here. From my standpoint, my household is probably a high user because I have college kids coming in every weekend with my family. My grandfather is the other side of it, a retiree who probably never ever uses the minimum."
He said, "I wanted the people that are users like me to have to either control their usage or pay for it and the people like my grandfather who are retirees on fixed income to not get punished by changes in anything we do."
He said, "It's exactly where I think we should be on this issue."
Copenhaver offered some examples explaining, "If you have someone who uses 2,500 gallons or less in a month they will see no increase at all. If you have someone who uses 3,000 gallons, what they will see is an increase of $5.15 or about %13.9 percent" increase on their bill. For 4,000 gallons, the increase would be $7.20. For 5,000 gallons, an increase of $9.25.
Heglar explained, "For the rental properties that are packing people in, the costs are going where they should.
Those ten people in the house taking five showers because they go to the beach three times a day in the summer. That's the right way to approach this type of issue. It's on usage."
One resident asked if the Council discussed the impact on Homeowner's Associations where owners are required to keep the grass green and not allowed to use artificial turf.
Heglar said people can put in a shallow water well to water lawns or people can pay for the installation of a second meter, but that option is not cheap.
Copenhaver said, "We had an increase in rates we pay to Carolina Beach for use of their sewer treatment facility" earlier this year which also contributes to increased rates.
Additionally, a decline in new water and sewer connection fees resulted in reduced revenues. Unlike developing vacant land, when an existing home is replaced or rebuilt, there is no new connection fee required.
The budget will be available at Town Hall for the public to read before the Council considers final adoption following a public hearing scheduled for Thursday, June 4th at 6:30 pm.


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