FAIRMONT — A tight budget year did not stop the Fairmont Board of Commissioners from giving town employees a 2.5 percent pay increase and a $300 one-time bonus.
While the 2018-19 budget is not yet approved, the commissioners agreed Tuesday to cancel its remaining budget workshops, obviously pleased with what Town Manager Katrina Tatum is proposing. The $1.97 million plan keeps the tax rate at 73 cents for every $100 of property, keeps fees the same, and doesn’t include any new positions, layoffs or significant capital projects.
“Excellent job. Best team in the county,” Commissioner Terry Evans said.
Evans spoke after he encouraged his fellow commissioners to consider a more conservative approach to pay increases.
“With the loss of revenue facing us, I am cautious,” Evans said. “A 2 percent raise gives us something to play with.
“If we keep raising, it will get us down the road. We’re going to mess around and have to raise water and sewer, and then I’m really going to holler.”
Commissioner Charles Kemp favored a 3 percent pay increase..
“I asked for 3 percent last year because I believe our employees need some kind of recognition,” Kemp said.
In the end, both Kemp and Evans were satisfied with a balanced budget.
The loss of revenue stems from Fairmont’s district sewer plant, which is not getting the same volume from Fair Bluff as it did before Hurricane Matthew destroyed large parts of the town.
Tatum estimates a loss of slightly more than $100,000 a year. The town expects to generate $1.16 million in revenue from the facility despite the reduced volume from Fair Bluff.
The town also lost a strip shopping mall and three businesses to fire in April. Tatum did her budget based on the revaluation of Fairmont property to show an increase of 4.6 percent, although the county has not completed all the contested valuations.
The town manager described the budget as “so tight” in opening remarks. There are very few capital expenditures in the budget, but Tatum said the town is in good shape.
“We will buy one new police car and spend $23,000 to renovate the new youth center,” Tatum said. “All our computers are upgraded, all the town buildings are upgraded to be energy efficient, and our parks have been upgraded.”
The town remains hopeful for the development of Exit 10 off Interstate 95. The town hopes for a large truck stop at the location that was annexed in late 2017.
The budget is expected to be completed by mid-June. The new fiscal year begins on July 1.
Staff writer Scott Bigelow can be reached at 910-644-4497 of [email protected]