ST. PAULS — The St. Pauls Board of Commissioners approved on Tuesday a $3.5 million 2018-2019 budget that maintains the current property tax rate, gives town employees a pay raise, but also increases water and sewer fees.
The spending plan keeps the tax rate at 65 cents per $100 of property value.
Town employees will get a 3 percent pay raise — 2 percent in merit pay and a 1 percent cost-of-living increase.
The cost for water will go up in the coming fiscal year from $14 to $16 a month for the first 2,000 gallons. The cost for 2,001 to 5,000 gallons remains at $3 per each additional 1,000 gallons, and the cost goes from $3.30 to $4 for each 1,000 gallons beyond 5,000.
The base sewer services rate will increase from $24 to $26 for up to 2,000 gallons. The cost of 2,001 through 5,000 gallons stays at $3.40 per 1,000 gallons. Sewer usage fees for more than 5,001 gallons will increase from $2.45 to $3 per 1,000 gallons.
Out-of-town water and sewer prices remain double the in-town price.
Solid waste and garbage service fees will stay at the current rate of $17 a month.
A new fee of $25 will be charged as a home occupancy permit for a business in a residential area.
The budget contains money for three new employees in the Public Works Department, and for a temporary employee in the Administration/Finance Department to become full-time.
One town employee wants to make a job change.
Commissioner Evans Jackson said he has been the city fire chief for 20 years, and he’s not accepting a paycheck.
“I don’t want to add it to this budget, but I think we need to get a new chief,” he said. “I would suggest pay at about $400 a month. Someone else needs to be paid for expenses and time. I’ve been on the staff for 44 years, with 20 as chief.”
The final budget vote was taken after a public comment period. Larry McQueen, a Hope Mills resident who owns property in St. Pauls, raised questions about the lack of a school resource officer at St. Pauls Elementary School.
The officer for St. Pauls Middle School also works at St. Pauls Elementary and is paid by the state and county, Jackson said.
McQueen countered that other schools have resource officers, and the community can’t wait to make school environments safe for students.
He was told the commissioners are working to get a full-time officer for the elementary school.
The town also is pursuing other funding sources to pay for various projects.
“We are continuing to complete work on the Sanderson Farms sewer project with Golden LEAF funds in the amount of $820,000,” Town Administrator J.R. Steigerwald said. “We also have an active Asset Inventory and Assessment grant from Department of Environmental Quality to videotape our sewer system in the amount of $150,000.”
St. Pauls is pursuing a Community Development Block Grant grant of $430,000 for hazard mitigation, Steigerwald said. The project also is funded with a $350,000 Golden LEAF foundation grant. The funds are planned for a stormwater project around Johnson and Elizabeth streets.
An application for a $1.6 million loan through the Department of Environmental Quality is being reviewed by the Local Government Commission to ensure the town’s ability to repay the loan, Steigerwald said. The money would be used to repair or replace sewer pipes as needed. If the loan is approved, $500,000 would be forgiven, leaving the town to pay back $1.1 million over a 20-year period. The loan is not planned for this fiscal year.
In other business Tuesday, the commissioners heard:
— A tractor-trailer load of chicken parts going to Valley Proteins turned over at Interstate 95 and N.C. 20 on Monday night, requiring a six-hour cleanup by the Public Works and fire departments. The cleanup costs, which have not been determined, will be reimbursed.
— A used Chevrolet Suburban is being purchased for $15,000 so the fire department can replace a 2007 vehicle.
Reach David Bradley at 910-416-5182 or [email protected]