LUMBERTON — The City Council on Monday voted 6 to 1 to approve the city’s 2012-2013 budget, which includes a 3 percent cost-of-living increase for city employees, an increase in storm water fees and keeps the tax rate the same.
Councilman John Cantey of Precinct 5 opposed it; Councilman John Robinson of Precinct 2 was absent.
Before voting, Cantey said residents are upset with the fee increase.
“Although the amount may seem small, when they’re already paying an average sewer rate of $14.32 and you’re going to increase the storm water fee up to $3.75 for a total of $18.07 … a vast majority of the citizens … do not have curb and gutter, where the water sits in their yards,” Cantey said of residents on about 20 streets in South Lumberton. “And I know we cannot drain water out of their yards, but those citizens have asked me not to support an increase as far as their storm water. So when I cast my vote tonight, it’s not against the entire budget … .”
The monthly fees will increase from $3.25 to $3.75 for residential accounts; from $7.15 to $8.29 for small business accounts; from $21.45 to $24.88 for medium business accounts; from $57.20 to $66.35 for large business accounts; and from $85.50 to $99.18 for major users.
City Manager Wayne Horne said during the council’s budget workshop last month that the fee increase will generate about $110,800 in revenue a year for storm drain repairs, which Horne said is one of the city’s biggest expenses.
The tax rate, which is 63 cents for every $100 of property, is unchanged in the budget
Mayor Raymond Pennington, along with Cantey, commended the city staff for crafting the budget.
“The staff has done an excellent job putting together a very difficult budget in tough economic times,” Pennington said. “They have a balanced budget, no tax increases, no rate increases in utilities, and we’re able to give the employees a 3 percent cost-of-living increase.”
The pay hike is effective July 1 for all city employees.
Also on Monday, the council approved the extension of a 12-month moratorium on new electronic and cyber gambling establishments. The council enacted the moratorium in May 2010, and voted the following year to extend the moratorium because of uncertainty about how the state General Assembly will regulate the establishments.
In other action on Monday, the council:
— Approved the demolition of unsafe buildings located at 2002 E. Fifth St., 316 E. Second St. and 2905 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
— Approved amendments to the city’s personnel policy regarding screenings and volunteer service hours for the Police Department.
— Referred a petition for a conditional-use permit to the Planning Board for property located at 306 N. Pine St.
— Approved about $2,300 in tax releases from 2010 and 2011.
— Adopted a resolution requesting that the state Department of Transportation delete a portion of Water Street from the state highway system.
— Approved easements for AT&T in the Third Street parking lot.
— Authorized the city clerk to investigate the sufficiency of a petition for contiguous annexation for property located on Fayetteville Road.
— Approved an amendment to the conditional-use permit process.
— Approved a policy for expending resources to complete ABC local opinion forms.
— Adopted a resolution to provide water to maintain landscaping on a median in Wycliffe Subdivision.
— Approved the resurfacing of the Third Street parking lot.
— Approved the de-obligation of $180 in housing rehabilitation funds in Precinct 5.
— Designated $1,000 in community revitalization funds from Precinct 5 to McCormick’s Chapel.
— Designated $1,100 from the general fund for the Robeson County Partnership for Children.
— Approved an ordinance adopting the N.C. state building codes.
— Adopted the Robeson County Hazard Mitigation Plan.
— Approved a re-zoning request from Southeastern Regional Medical Center for property located on Dawn Drive.
— Approved a new method of appointing Board of Adjustment members.
— Awarded a contract of $264,390 to Camp Electric of Rutherfordton to install lighting at the Northeast Park baseball and softball field.
— Approved a $12,750 change order for construction of the new Lumberton Police Department.
— Awarded a contract of $28,392.40 to ALS of Fayetteville for a traffic signal upgrade at the intersection of Elizabethtown Road and North Elm Street.
— Approved a revision to the facade improvement grant.
— Recognized city employees Glonnie Scott and Harry Lee Hester, who retired after 25 and 16 years of service to the city, respectively.
— Recognized Pastor Kenny Jones, who received the Pride of Lumberton Award.
— Canceled the July 9 City Council meeting and scheduled the next meeting for Aug. 13.