Trinity adopts budget with sewer increase

Jun. 19, 2013 @ 05:02 PM

Trinity residents won’t pay more in property taxes this year, but those with sewer service will see a rate increase in the city’s 2013-14 budget, which was adopted by the City Council Tuesday.
The $4.08 million spending plan is $98,395, or 2 percent, less than the total current budget. 
For the fifth consecutive year, it holds the property tax rate at 10 cents per $100 of assessed value, so the owner of a $100,000 house will pay $100 in 2013 city taxes.
The sewer rate will increase 10 percent, from $8.67 to $9.54 per 1,000 gallons. Most of the increase is due to a rise in what Thomasville charges Trinity for sewer treatment, as well as the city’s share of the upgrade and expansion of Thomasville’s wastewater treatment plant, officials said.
Council approved the budget by a vote of 7-1, with Ed Lohr the lone dissenter. He said he objected to the amount budgeted for salaries for the city’s six employees.
“I just think the salaries have gotten out of hand,” Lohr said.
A public hearing on the budget drew only one speaker, Colonial Circle resident Chris McGee, who said he believes the employees are underpaid, pointing out that City Manager Debbie Hinson’s salary is “not much more than I make as a driver on a fire truck.”
“You have some of the best employees you can find. To sit here and think you’re going to have to finance this sewer or any other bill off the backs of the employees is wrong,” McGee said.
Approximately one-third of the budget relates directly to expanding and operating Trinity’s sewer system. The budget projects an increase in debt-service payments associated with the sewer system from $851,521 to $1,064,564.
Revenues in the sewer fund show a total decrease of 7 percent, while sewer tap fee revenue is projected to increase $65,000, or 13 percent, due to the additional customers that will be hooking on to the system with the completion of phase 4 of new sewer lines.
The budget reduces general fund expenditures by $314,441, decreasing appropriations for economic development by 51 percent, or $10,500, and outside agencies by 31 percent, or $8,150.
Funding for public works will also be decreased, including for new street lights, which the city has paid for with franchise tax funds distributed by the state. With this revenue stream in jeopardy, the council decided to suspend new requests for street lights.
Also Tuesday, council voted to seek a state grant on behalf of Jowat Corp., a Trinity manufacturer of adhesive and chemical products that is planning to expand its Uwharrie Road plant.
The $4.7 million project will create 14 new jobs with average wages of $27,991, according to the Randolph County Economic Development Corp. The company is seeking economic incentives for the expansion in the form of a $70,000 building reuse grant from the N.C. Rural Center. If the grant application is successful, Trinity would provide $1,750 in local matching funds for the project.