Andrews ledgers dripping with red

   Monday’s budget meeting revealed just how far in the red Andrews’ funds have shifted.
    Bill Green, Andrews town administrator, said that as of Monday, the town’s general fund had a shortfall of $15,426, and the water and sewer fund reached a deficit of $115,763.
    “My standpoint is that I’m not so much worried about next year, as I am making it to June 30 somehow,” Green said. “I don’t have a magic wand. I don’t have anything super special to be able to do that.”
    Green explained that all the town could do includes controlling its spending and collecting any owed money.
    He said the town recently paid off its debt service of $45,000, which is money borrowed from the state to make the improvements at the Waste Water Treatment Plant. Next year he said the debt service will equate to around $103,000.
    Mayor James Reid said the town paid NFocus $109,000 this fiscal year, and is required to give the consulting company another $50,000. He stated that the reason for this $50,000 amount lies with NFocus not putting the cost of a town administrator into the budget.
    “Whatever it takes, that’s what we’re willing to do,” Reid said. “It’s going to be a hard next two years. I’m pretty sure once we get through these past two years, we’re going to be on track to where we can straighten out the town and get it in the direction we need to be.”
    Jane Blue, the head librarian at the Andrews Public Library, came before the Board of Alderman and made a couple of budget requests.
    She asked the board to consider raising the full-time staffs’ salaries by three percent. She said the staff members haven’t received an increase in three years.
    “The money that you invest in my employees is invaluable to me and to them,” Blue said. “They appreciate being recognized by the town for their hard work and I think it’s fair to ask for the small amount to make their wages fair and equitable with other businesses in the area.”
    Additionally, she requested putting her part-time and substitute workers’ salaries on par with what McDonald’s offers its staff. She then brought to the board’s attention the library’s need for a new heating and air conditioning system, which hasn’t been replaced since 1979.
    Blue reminded the board of the plethora of services the library offers to the town. During 2017 the library received 70,533 visits and if the facility were to total its value of services, it would equate to $761,050.
    Reid said he knows of the services that the library brings to Andrews, and does not want to eliminate anything in its budget.
    Alderman Scott Stalcup reminded everyone at the meeting that the board is working proactively to fix the town’s problems, so the state won’t have to step in.
    “Because if the state comes in and takes over, there’s not going to be any, ‘Well can you think about doing this?’ ” Stalcup said. “It’s going to be, ‘This is gone, that is gone.’”
    Gayle Horton, the president of the Andrews Chamber of Commerce, brought a budget request for 2018-19 before the board. She asked for $13,000 to assist with the July Fourth Festival, Oktoberfest, Christmas on Main, Christmas Parade, Spring Fling and other events hosted by local organizations.
    The chamber would take $29,000 of its own funding to budget toward the events.
    “I feel like our events are bringing people into town that probably wouldn’t have come and got out of their car, and walked up and down Main Street,” Horton said.
    Bill Bateman, who supervises the Water Treatment Plant, said that the level of water testing increased because of the boost in the town’s population. Tim Wood, Waste Water Treatment Plant supervisor, recommended opening a testing lab up for each plant.
    Wood said having their own labs would save the town a lot of money down the road since they wouldn’t have another lab crew performing the tests.
    Reid informed Bateman and Wood that the town would hold a meeting to discuss the budget and future of the two treatment plants.

The Andrews Journal

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995 Main St., Nantahala Suite
Andrews, NC 28901
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