Bryson City town budget public hearing is Monday
The Bryson City Town Board of Aldermen will hold a workshop meeting on Monday, June 18, at 5:30 p.m., when there will be a public hearing on the 2018-2019 budget proposal.
The proposed budget estimates the general fund revenues and expenses to be just over $1.5 million dollars. The bulk of general fund monies will come from property tax revenues of around $495,000, and sales tax revenues of around $380,000. The largest expenditures will be the Police Department at around $578,000, and the sanitation department at $213,000.
Revenues and expenditures for water and sewer total around $1.4 million with the bulk of expenses coming from plant operations at just over $573,000, and collection and distribution coming to $546,000.
The proposed budget will include a 3 percent rate increase for water and sewer service, which will amount to an average base rate increase of 82 cents per month, and an average usage fee increase of 12 cents per gallon over 1000 gallons. The North Carolina Rural Water Association recommended the rate increase after completing a rate study.
A 10 percent increase in water and sewer tap fees will also be included since, according to Town Manager Regina Mathis, those fees have not been increased since 2008.
Also included in the budget proposal is an increase in sanitation rates. Residential rates will go from $10 to $11 a month, and commercial rates will go from $24 to $26 per month.
Property tax rates will remain unchanged at 35 cents per $100 evaluation.
The budget proposal is now available for viewing at Town Hall. The board will vote on the budget following the public hearing.
The board met for their regular monthly meeting on Monday, June 4. During the public comment period, members of the community appealed to the board to increase police presence in certain areas of Bryson City.
Chuck Perrotti told the board members that his property on the west end of Bryson City has been broken into three times, and nothing is being done about it. He also has property on Main Street that has been broken into at least ten times, he said.
“I pay $1,500 to $1,800 a year in taxes, and I’m not getting anything for it,” Perrotti said. “The police department is here to provide safety and protect us, they’re not doing anything in my case. I would like to have the police department patrol the west end of Bryson City.”
Ray McGill addressed the board about the need to have better police presence in the Island Park area. He told the board that there are certain persons encroaching on the island and “running off the decent people” that want to take advantage of it. In addition, he said there is a group of men that are challenging the kayakers from the bank of the river and trying to scare them off, and young boys with skateboards on the bridge endangering the people walking to and from the Island. He said he would like to see a greater police presence in the area to discourage that kind of behavior.
“I wanted to ask what you all thought about it, if you thought it would be a good idea to have (an officer) in the area at least once on the weekends and in the evenings,” McGill said. “And we need some signs with the rules and laws to abide by. People would respect that and we can have a decent park for everyone to enjoy.”
Police Chief Greg Jones told the board that he agreed Island Park is not getting the attention it needs. Police officers responded to two reports of suspicious activity there recently, and the department intends to try to have at least two patrols a night in the area he said.
Board members agreed they would take the requests under advisement and see what could be done.
In other business, the Board voted to allow members the option to enroll in the Town’s Health Insurance Plan. At the meeting on May 21, Alderwoman Janine Crisp proposed the town adopt a policy allowing board members the option to enroll in the town’s health insurance plan.
Under the proposed option, members could chose to forego the benefit and continue to receive their bi-monthly salary, and those that chose the benefit would forego their salary and pay the difference between their salary and the insurance premium Crisp said.
“Extending health insurance benefits to board members may help make this position more desirable and thereby get more people interested in serving,” Crisp said. “This option would have zero impact on the town’s budget.”
Town Manager Regina Mathis, worked with the insurance agent to prepare the policy and put it forward for a vote at the June 4 meeting. According to Mathis, those that opt to enroll in the health insurance plan will have to pay the full monthly premium, and still receive their bi-monthly salary.
The newly adopted policy says, “The Mayor and Aldermen may elect to enroll in the Town’s Health Plan. They will be responsible for paying the full monthly premium...”
Two new members were appointed to the ABC board. Monty Clampitt, whose appointment was expiring, was reappointed for another term. Todd Lancaster was appointed to replace Rick Bryson who has moved away from Bryson City.
The newly appointed Rec Park Commission consisting of three town representatives and four county representatives met on May 22 and voted unanimously to convey deed of the Recreation Department to Swain County. In March, during a joint meeting with the Town Board and the County Commissioners, it was decided that the town would transfer ownership of the Rec Park to the county to enable them to apply for grant funds to assist with upgrades. Because the Rec Park was deeded to the Rec Park Commission, which no longer existed, and not to the town, Town Lawyer Fred Moody said they would have to appoint a new Commission to approve the transfer of ownership. After the vote, the commission was dissolved.
Mathis reported that Duke Energy has installed LED lighting upgrades at the Town Hall, Water Plant, Sewer Plant, and Fire Station as part of a program with the company that pays 78 percent of the cost of the upgrades. Although they do not have any official numbers yet, Mathis estimated that the town has already saved around $600 in one month with the upgraded lighting. The board is looking at upgrading the streetlights as well.
The board agreed to set the date for the next regular meeting on July 9.