MAXTON — The Maxton Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved a fiscal year 2018-19 budget with no tax or fee increases, but found some money to give a pay raise for town employees.
The $1.9 million spending plan keeps the current tax rate of 80 cents per $100 of property value and maintains water, sewer, and fire protection fees at current levels. It gives town employees a 2.5 percent cost-of-living increase across the board.
Insurance for town employees will change to North Carolina League of Municipalities, with a 3 percent increase that will be absorbed by town without passing the cost to employees. The change offers a better benefit package than the previous company, according to information in the budget packet.
There are no changes in the workforce in terms of personnel, Town Manager Kate Bordeaux said.
The budget includes $3,000 for repair of the clock atop Town Hall. Willis Sullivan, who is overseeing repairs, told the commissioners that the clock’s east face is being repaired. It was blown off during an April 15 storm. The striker should be working again by fall, Sullivan said.
In another money matter, the commissioners learned the a water-loss reduction project, funded with a $2.6 million Community Development Block Grant, has been completed $500,000 under budget.
“Government needs to be run like a business,” Bordeaux said. “I held the contractor, Metcon, to the budget on their bid.”
Mike Apke, an engineer with Martin and McGill, discussed what could be done with the leftover money.
“The town must amend the project,” Apke said. “With these funds, we can add East Central Street and MLK Jr. Highway to the water-loss project. This will add about 1,600 feet of water line to the project.”
Town leaders now must ask the state’s permission to use the money, send the project out for rebidding, and then approve the lowest legitimate bidder, Bordeaux said.
In another budget matter, the commissioners approved the Laurinburg-Maxton Airport Commission’s $1.5 million fiscal year 2018-19 budget. The town of Maxton approves the budget but provides no money for operation of the airport, which generates its own revenue.
Maxton Commissioner James McDougald was reappointed to the airport’s commission.
A four-person Economic Development Committee, which has been in the works for some time, became a reality Tuesday. A fifth member will be added later.
The committee can now begin working to enhance the local economy, Bordeaux said. Suggestions for the historic downtown area, such as art venues, sandwich and coffee shops, have been made.
“It’s a diamond in the rough,” Bordeaux said. “I want the stakeholders, residents with history in the community, and people from all walks of life on the board. I want a member of the Campbell Soup’s family to have a seat at the table. I want those with a shared vision of what downtown could be. Let them paint the canvas of this old-time charm.”
McDougald requested and received permission from his fellow commissioners to be added to the Economic Development Committee as an ex-officio member.
In other business, the commissioners:
— Learned a grant for $2 million has been requested to help make Maxton a SMART city, which uses technology to deter crime.
— Heard property on South Florence Drive was donated to the town. Bordeaux said that she has received calls about buying the site, and a sealed-bids process will be initiated.
— Were told July Fourth will be celebrated on June 30 in Maxton’s Beacham Park from 3 p.m. until dark.
— Listened as Commissioner Victor Womack called the old railroad depot an eyesore, and requested an update on its removal. Mayor Emmett Morton said he has talked to the state and CSX, but is continuing to run into problems getting the right department heads to approve the demolition.
— Learned that state Sen. Danny Britt Jr. has secured a $15,000 grant for use as town leaders see fit.
— Heard Bordeaux is working with the state Department of Transportation to address the problem of grass and weeds along Central and Wilmington streets.
Reach David at 910 416 5182 or [email protected]