Rural Hall approves one cent tax increase

RURAL HALL — During the June 8 Rural Hall Council meeting Town Manager Frank L. James shared highlights of the proposed 2015-16 budget. Fire department funding, community policing, capital improvements, road resurfacing, and improvements at the recreation park are all included in the budget.

Mayor Larry Williams noted that a “$27 million loss in profit revenue with the Siemens plant closing” is the main cause for a one cent tax increase that was proposed for property owners inside the town limits.

Nine tenths of the one cent increase will go directly to the fire department’s budget. “This past year the fire department answered 1,100 calls, and that number continues to escalate and go up,” said James, explaining that the cost of operating the department increases with the growing population.

The other one tenth of the increase will be applied to general administrative expenses within the town. The council unanimously passed the budget for the next fiscal year.

The proposed solid waste and recycling bank agreement provides a $11,000 savings to the town on an annual basis, according to James. According to Town Clerk Dora Moore, residents will receive information in the mail about a rewards program in which they can earn gift cards for recycling. Rates would be reduced beginning in July. The Council approved the new contract.

A revision was approved for the 2015-16 Fee Schedule and Rural Hall Rules and Regulations. The change, which takes effect on July 1, involves fees for cemetery plots and markers. The cost of grave plots for residents outside town limits will increase by $500, making the new price $2500. The permanent marker deposit for already erect markers will increase by $100, bringing the price to $300.

Several citizens spoke during the public hearing on the proposed budget and public comments.

Ed Lupo requested copies of the new budget and the 2014-15 budget. He also inquired about recent purchases of fire department vehicles, asking “if the insurance company gave you 30 some thousand dollars, why did you finance a new vehicle?”

“Cash flow,” said James, explaining that the town was offered a good interest rate, and put the funds toward other necessities within the fire department.

Barbara Lawson addressed concerns about gender discrimination among the council. “Is there any particular reason why women are not welcome on the council?” Lawson asked.

Mayor Williams stated that the recent decision to appoint Councilman Thomas Griggs was based on criteria including experience and involvement in the town. “I can assure you that gender was not involved in the decision,” Williams said.

Lawson also inquired about residency requirements for town employees. “My opinion is that we should get the most qualified people for employees,” responded Williams, noting that the most qualified people may not live within the town limits. Lawson requested job descriptions for all town employees and indicated that she would like to see the policy changed.

Shirley Shelton expressed thanks to the council for their support in opposing the Family Dollar rezoning request.

During the month of May a flag was purchased in memory of Wilburn Lee “Buddy” Young by Wayne and Ruby Bowles. Flags will be flown at the NC 66 and NC 65 intersection beginning June 12 for Flag Day, and along NC 66 and NC 65 the entire week of July 4.

The May Yard of the Month award was presented to Wayne and Carol Holland, of 646 Runningbrook Lane. Larry and Kathy Wood were announced as the June Yard of the Month recipients.

A Medicine Drop, sponsored by the Forsyth County Sherriff’s Department, will be held June 15 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Rural Hall Fire Department. “We encourage anyone with any type of medication, don’t throw it into the drain, because after all it ends up in our drinking water at some point,” explained James.

The town will host the Rural Hall Area Business Association meeting at Covington Park June 16 at 12:30 p.m.

Four positions on the council are up for election this year including Mayor, one two-year term Council member, and two four-year term Council members. Due to changes at the elections board, interested parties are now required to go to the Forsyth County Government Center to file.

Diane Blakemore may be reached at 336-368-2222 or on twitter @PilotReporter.