Spindale adopts budget

Jun. 18, 2013 @ 09:03 AM

On Monday, the Spindale Board of Commissioners adopted the town budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year, totaling $3,793,631.

Faced with an operational gap of $144,315, the adopted budget reflects the consensus of the Board of Commissioners during the past month's two budget workshops, and involves a three-year approach.

The general fund budget includes the restructuring of planning, zoning and code compliance; increasing the residential garbage fee by $2 per month; property and reliability insurance savings; eliminating holiday gift cards to employees and retirees; cutting the Town Hall Facility budget; eliminating Governing Board donations; eliminating the town's participation in the Code Red program; and making additional department cuts.

Personnel cuts will be made effective July 1, 2014 that would include three retirements and one reduction in force.

"Without implementing property tax increases, these are all cuts we'll have to make in order to make ends meet and make up the chunk of change that we'll need over the next few years," said Town Manager Cameron McHargue.

The sewer enterprise budget also involves a three-year plan, with rates increasing substantially each year to cover projected costs.

The rate structure allows for a .95 cent increase for each of the next three years on each 1,000 gallons of usage. The sewer availability fee will remain the same at $12 per month.

In the first three years, the town will just break even each year while enabling itself to undertake Wastewater Treatment Plant rehabilitation. There will be no money put aside for future sewer projects.

According to town staff, this rate plan is designed to be phased in and soften the impact to the customer.

During the public hearing regarding the budget, Rocky Guarriello, owner and operator of Ultimate Textile in Spindale, addressed commissioners with his concerns about the sewer rate increase.

"I understand the situation the town is in but this is a big jump, especially for me because I use a lot of water at the plant," Guarriello said. "I'm not asking you to bend the rules, I'm just asking you to consider the amount of water I'm putting down the drain versus what I'm actually using."

While commissioners expressed their concern for industrial users like Guarriello, they also saw the rate increase as a town necessity.

"I understand where you're coming from, but these rate increases are what we need to do to run the town," said Commissioner Andrew Kirton. "It's just an ugly truth — these rate increases have to take place in order to maintain our infrastructure, and we need funds to do so."

"If we do come upon funds in the future that we don't anticipate, let's not forget our industrial customers," said Commissioner Tommy Hardin.

The board unanimously voted to adopt the 2013-14 fiscal year budget ordinance and corresponding schedule of fees and 2013-19 Capital Improvement Plan.

In other new business, the board also heard a presentation by Travis Dodrill, a Spindale resident and owner of A+ Car Rental & Sales.

Dodrill addressed commissioners concerning recent incidents of theft, vandalism and attempted breaking and entering, in hopes of raising community awareness and encouraging vigilance to thwart the current increase in incidents.

"I'm unsure of the reason for the increase in crime in Spindale over the past six months, and I have a deep concern and want to help with finding a solution," Dodrill said. "The police here have always gone above and beyond and I'd like to see Spindale be a positive environment and nice place to live."

Chief of Police R.A. McIntosh shared his concern as a Spindale resident.

"I live in this community, have family here and go to church here," McIntosh said. "We've had this problem before and we'll most likely continue to see it. Community involvement in this town is what we need in order to combat these kinds of incidents."

Commissioners concluded the meeting with a vote to approve two budget amendments that will be acted upon for the 2012-13 fiscal year end close-out.

The first amendment seeks to appropriate funds for the part-time administrative assistant to be able to work full-time during the finance officer's emergency medical leave, whereas Town Hall has a need to be adequately staffed for the public and the continuation of the town's business.

The second amendment concerns the trash can rental fee implemented by the town on July 1, 2012, whereas these funds are to be used to replace trash cans as needed.