Fairmont Commissioners OK 2021-22 with no improve in property tax charge

				                                Fairmont Commissioner Terry Evans, left, watches Town Manager Hank Raper, far right, discuss the NC Department of Transportation's comprehensive transportation plan for Fairmont during a special convened meeting on Tuesday.  Jessica Horne |  The Robesonian

Fairmont Commissioner Terry Evans, left, watches Town Manager Hank Raper, far right, speak on Tuesday about the NC Department of Transportation’s comprehensive transportation plan for Fairmont during a special convened session.

Jessica Horne | The Robesonian

FAIRMONT – It took the commissioners a little under 30 minutes here to approve a spending plan for fiscal year 2021-22 during a special convened meeting on Tuesday, which stands at just over $ 3.6 million.

The approved spending plan of $ 3,684,551 includes, but is not limited to, a general fund of $ 2,101,745, a water and wastewater fund of $ 1,423,625, and a Powell Bill fund from $ 99,315. The proposed budget leaves the property tax rate at 73 cents per property valued at $ 100 and does not include increases in water, sewer, or sewer charges. The budget also gives city workers a pay raise with a 1% cost of living adjustment going into effect on July 1st.

Commissioners first approved the 2020-21 fiscal year budget amendment to include a transfer of $ 60,000 from the City’s General Fund to the Water Fund to offset lower water revenues.

Jenny Larson, the city’s finance director and clerk, told The Robesonian ahead of the meeting that water revenues were initially overestimated and customers did not use as much water as expected during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unexpected water and sewer repairs also added to the deficit, she said.

The commissioners also approved the acceptance of a $ 150,000 water resource inventory and assessment grant from the NC Department of Environmental Quality to assess the water system and required repairs. The funding is on a reimbursement basis.

A $ 345,000 Golden LEAF project ordinance was also approved to refurbish the North Walnut Street pumping station, Happy Hill Road pumping station, and the station near Fairmont High School.

The Board of Commissioners also approved funding for the American Rescue Plan, which is valued at $ 760,000. City manager Hank Raper said the number is an estimate and could change as allocations are made. The funds will be halved and allocated within two years; they must be spent by the end of 2024.

“We recommend taking a resolution so that a project regulation can be created so that funds can be spent,” said Raper.

Some communities may not need funds for the type of projects or areas of need the ARP grant will fund and be unable to use the funds, so they may choose to opt out, Raper said. This can lead to more money being available to other communities.

Commissioner Monte McCallum said some areas were refusing funds for political reasons, which he could not understand.

Mayor Pro Tem JJ McCree asked for notification when the funds were due.

“It comes. If we get it, we get it and what we get is what we get,” McCree said.

McCree asked Raper to check with areas such as Cerro Gordo, Boardman, and Fairbluff, where Fairmont provides sewage services, to see if they would decline ARP funding. McCree said some of these funds could potentially be used to help repair sewer pipes.

The commissioners also approved the write-off of $ 20,307.69 of unrecovered water charges from 2020-21. Also approved was the 2010 property tax amortization totaling $ 21,288.93.

The board approved the authorization of the signatures of Mayor Charles Townsend and Mayor Pro Tem JJ McCree for use on behalf of the city through their bank account.

Commissioners have been notified of a comprehensive transportation plan from the NC Department of Transportation for Fairmont, which includes a map of pedestrian and bicycle improvements on state roads in the city.

“This is just a recommendation,” said Raper.

Nothing was done after the briefing.

“This is just a vision of a community where we want transportation to go in Robeson County. Therefore, when DOT makes decisions about roads, bike lanes and other things in the city of Fairmont, it is considered a community contribution, ”said Raper.

Commissioner Charles Kemp spoke about a letter Fairmont received on June 16 from the NC division of the Treasurer’s Treasury Department and the Local Government Commission and the Local Government Commission.

The letter stated that Fairmont is on a 2021 Unit Assistance List drawn up by LGC employees based on audited financial data as of June 30, 2020. The LGC said it had “concerns about the financial condition of the General Fund and the Water and / or Sewage Fund”.

“Your inclusion on the UAL list is not intended to be a punishment; The list helps us to prioritize human resources where they are most needed. We also use the list to alert external resource providers to the entities that have the most urgent needs, ”said the letter signed by Sharon Edmundson, assistant treasurer and director of state and local government finance.

“How many of the LGC employees live in Fairmont? How many of them face the brain-wrecking crises our public works workers face when trying to stay one step ahead on sewage and water issues? ”Asked Kemp.

“The answer to these questions is not because they are not affected by these things. It’s easy to draw a game for a team on a chalk board in the locker room, but when the game starts the lineup may not look like the chalk marks in the locker room. So the play fails … You can continue to send these letters and follow your mission, but no letter from a government official 120 miles away who knows little about our city or its citizens will make me feel any different than I do – I will speak tonight ” , he said.

Nevertheless, it is primarily about the citizens, said Kemp.

Commissioner Terry Evans said he agreed with Kemp.

“I agree with Commissioner Kemp, but for the same reason I have to say that my money comes from there,” said Evans.

And ultimately, the city has to obey its rules, said Evans.

On June 22nd, the city also received a notification from the waste management department with which it had concluded a contract for the disposal of municipal waste, solid waste and the collection of municipal and commercial waste. The announcement states that starting August 1, the solid waste budget rate will increase from $ 7.24 per car to $ 7.38 per car. Garden waste disposal fee will increase from $ 4.69 per home to $ 4.78 per home. The fees are paid by the city.

You can reach Jessica Horne at 910-416-5165 or by email at [email protected]