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Back You are here: Home Opinion Opinion Section Editorials View of the Mayor: PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE A COMMITMENT BY CAROLINA BEACH TOWN COUNCIL

View of the Mayor: PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE A COMMITMENT BY CAROLINA BEACH TOWN COUNCIL

By ROBERT LEWIS
Mayor of Carolina Beach

Sand on our Beaches….
With the vote to approve the Town Managers 2013/2014 budget council is planning to bank an estimated $350,000 plus to fund our future portion of a storm damage reduction project (beach nourishment) in 3 years.   I would hope as we watch our expenses in the upcoming year we will also be able to come up with additional revenue to bank for our portion of Inlet Dredging costs next year. 
This new budget continues with the same cost take outs we made in last year’s budget and some additional changes in processes to help reduce additional costs. We have added an additional new hire and a 2% cost of living raise and a 2% merit raise to town employees and we still came in close to last year’s budgeted expense side which means keeping property taxes low for our residents.  
We look forward to continue our efforts in cost effective management of our town expenditures so as not to have to raise property taxes in the future. 
One example of our efforts was the decision at last week’s council meeting to outsource our fleet maintenance instead of building a new building and continuing our former operation. 
We already outsource the work on our larger construction type vehicles and some of the more complex automotive work to dealers in the Wilmington area.  After conducting some analytical cost benefit analysis our town manager estimates we will save over $50,000 annually by outsourcing this work not including the capital expenditure for a new building.  
We are also using two Carolina Beach automotive centers to provide our fleet maintenance work as we work to promote our local businesses.  Another example of good business decision was made at last week’s council meeting when we also approved the lease with option to purchase of a lot located in the 100 block of Lake Park Blvd. across from the lake (formerly a Car Wash) to make into a town parking lot. 
Based on parking revenue projections we will generate about $12,000 in net new revenue from this parking lot while providing additional parking for various lake events and for beach access during the summer.  Once the option is exercised the lot will pay for itself in a little over 10 years.

Clean Quality Drinking Water at an affordable price…
As we begin to roll out our comprehensive strategic water and sewer upgrade plan we also want to involve you the residents in the process.
Our plan still needs to be reviewed one more time before we are ready to move forward and at that time we plan to conduct two public forums and a public hearing inviting all residents to attend. 
We will have our Utility Director and our water and sewer Consultant lay out the plan and the timeline for completion so residents with poor water quality can actually see some light at the end of the tunnel.  
We also plan to publish and mail out a simple overview of the plan with water bills in the future.
To review in general terms the plan calls for the replacement of over 5.5 miles of old 2” water (some over 50 years old) pipes with new  6” PVC pipe and the replacement and repair of over 6.5 miles of sewer lines in the same area.  As we complete this project we will also be constructing a new 3 Million Gallon Ground Water Tank to replace an existing 1 million gallon tank which has passed its useful life.  All these upgrades are necessary if we are going to dramatically improve the quality of our drinking water and provide all residents with good pressure in our system.  
As part of this comprehensive water and sewer project, roads in the affected areas are scheduled to be repaved and resurfaced.
The investment in this large infrastructure improvement if done now will save our residents millions of dollars in water and sewer costs in the future.   It is not a case of if we need to do it.
These same water lines are causing our residents poor water quality and poor pressure, iron deposits, water line breaks and disrupted service and the list goes on.  Our town incurs significant costs annually to repair and replace lines as they break and we are losing significant amounts of water in our system due to undetected breaks. The same can be said for the sewer system as water intrusion and sand intrusion in the sewer lines makes us spend thousands of dollars on treatment of rain water and sand at our sewer plant driving up our costs.  
As you may know our grant writer, Jerry Haire was able to secure and qualify our town for a zero interest loan for the purchase of new electronic meters for all of our water customers.  This is a savings of over $250,000 to the town on a 10 year note.  We will also be applying for the same clean water zero interest loans for the entire project mentioned above.  
So as not to burden our residents with higher water and sewer bills our town manager has worked out a capital budget and debt retirement process for the water utility so that the investment in this huge project will not affect water and sewer rates for a number of years and with only small incremental increases in the future.  
We can gain the benefit of an improved system in as soon as 2 years.  Please come out and see the new Comprehensive Water and Sewer Plan at the public forums/town hall meetings.  We will publish the meeting dates online on the Town Website and in this publication in the near future. 
Bob Lewis
Mayor, Town of Carolina Beach
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