Hamlet City Council members voted to adopt the Fiscal Year 2012-2013 budget on Tuesday night.
The budget, as presented by City Manager Marchell Adams David, balances at $7,323,680.
“Despite the unprecedented downturn in the national economy, the state’s economy has seen sporadic increases over the last year,” said David. “Unfortunately we have not witnessed the same degree of growth in the local economy. Economic conditions continue to be stagnant in Hamlet and the rest of Richmond County. Much of this can be attributed to high unemployment rates, falling state revenues, stagnant home and retail sales, rise in petroleum prices, decrease in federal grant funds and increases in state mandates.”
The City of Hamlet has adopted a budget that it believes will allow the city to meet financial challenges in the upcoming fiscal year.
The city’s general operating fund of $4,517,645 is looking at a slight increase in revenues over last year, and is attributed to a 10 percent growth in population. The fund includes revenues from property taxes, sales taxes, garbage collection fees, utility franchise fees, telecomm taxes, fire protection fees, emergency services fees, parks and rec fees and ABC store profits, among other fees.
General fund expenses are budgeted within the following departments: governing body; administration; finance; public buildings; police; fire; streets and highways; sanitation; senior center; recreation; horticulture and non-departmental. These departments represent core services and are typically not revenue generating. Capital funds in the amount of $9,600 are appropriated for SCBAs (self contained breathing apparatus) in the fire department and $53,000 for communications in police and fire.
The budget reflects a 10 percent reduction in health insurance premiums for all active employees. A pay and classification review will be done to evaluate the city’s pay rates for employees.
Powell Bill revenues in FY 2012-13 are projected at $235,535. Powell Bill funding is allocated to participating communities through funds collected from motor fuel taxes and taxes on vehicles purchased and titled in NC. Distribution is based on population and the number of municipality maintained street miles. This revenue stream fluctuates, as it is tied to vehicle sales and gas prices. It’s expected to increase by about 1.5 percent over last year. These funds will be used to address aging infrastructure in the city. This includes funds for sidewalks, curbs, gutters and resurfacing.
Revenues in the Enterprise Fund total $2,570,500 for FY 2012-13. This represents a decrease from $275,500 last year. Water and sewer sales are constant, the decrease can be attributed to $200,000 in grant funds that were expended to complete the water lake dam project last fiscal year. Expenditures in this fiscal year will cover water administration, WTP and WWTP operations, water distribution and waste collections. Provisions were included for a part-time employee in the finance/collections department, as well as provisions for capital outlay for actuators estimated at $30,000 and filter console estimated at $15,000.
The city will continue to appropriate funds for the annual fireworks display and downtown activities on the Fourth of July, professional museum, Christmas festivities, playground improvements, city lake walking trail enhancements, a community fishing program, the Hamlet Senior Center and Discovery Place-KIDS.
The city will also appropriate $1,500 to the Humane Society of Richmond County (down from $2,000 last fiscal year), $1,000 to the Richmond County Arts Council, $1,000 to the Richmond County Literacy Council and $1,500 to New Horizons (up from $1,000 last fiscal year).
“It is with great pride that I state that all of this will be accomplished in the next fiscal year without increase in fees or taxes to our citizens,” said David.
“We chose to make some cutbacks in other areas rather than pass on expenses to the community,” said Mayor Jeff Smart.
In other action at Tuesday’s meeting:
• Smart read a memorial proclamation on behalf of the late council member Diane Honeycutt, and presented a plaque to her family in recognition of her years of service to the city. A white rose was placed at Honeycutt’s seat, and her name plate was also given to the family. Honeycutt died on May 10, 2012, and left behind a legacy of service in Hamlet and in Richmond County.
“The thing I’ll take away most from my time working with Diane is that she was a fighter for employees,” said Smart. “A lot of what she said at our last meeting regarding employees was implemented in the new budget.”
• Hamlet City Code Article 1-Sec. 21-8 (c) was amended. The amendment allows for water deposit fees to be transferred to the name of the surviving spouse in the event of a consumer’s death. Death certificate and proof of residency are required. This amendment will ensure that surviving spouses do not have to pay a re-connect fee for water services.
• A policy change amending the reconnect fee for water taps was approved. Currently, if a second water tap is disconnected by a customer, a full tap fee of $500 is required before water service is reinstated. As of July 1, 2012, in the event that a property changes ownership, the new owner will only be required to pay a $100 reconnect fee for reinstatement of the second tap.
• Council passed an ordinance increasing the number of Hamlet ABC board members from three to five. Council then voted to appoint council member Abby Covington and Wendy Massagee to the board.
• Council appointed Teresa Mercer, Valeria Lunceford and Raymond Marshall to the Hamlet Senior Center Advisory Board. There were three vacancies on the volunteer board.
• Eric Altman addressed council with an informal proposal to start a project to build a Frisbee golf course near Hamlet City Lake. Council approved of the idea, and asked Altman to start coordinating with parks and recreation director Mitch Bowman to move the project along.
— Staff Writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.