Town budget passes muster for state
The Andrews Board of Aldermen, mayor and town administrator had one shot to present a structurally sound budget before the state Local Government Commission, and they succeeded.
A collective sigh filled the facilities building on June 27 as Sharon Edmundson, director of the Local Government Finance Division, expressed her approval of the budget, which includes a property tax, or millage, rate increase from 51.5 to 61.65 cents per $1,000 of value.
Edmundson thanked the town staff and board for their efforts in reaching the first step of approving the budget. She reminded them that the second step includes enforcing the budget and collection policies, which means holding people accountable for their bills.
“We’re not done with Andrews, and we will continue to monitor – sometimes here, sometimes in Raleigh,” she said.
Before the final budget presentation, Edmundson visited the board on three occasions, providing recommendations for meeting the state’s budget standards. Through a cash-flow prediction, she estimated that the town would run out of money in October if they didn’t change water rates and collection policies.
The 2018-19 fiscal year budget for Andrews’ general fund is $1,615,994. Interim Town Administrator Green said this would require an unencumbered fund balance of $129,300 to meet Local Government Commission requirements.
The unencumbered fund balance as of June 20, 2017, for the general fund is $71,613. The water/sewer unencumbered fund balance as of June 20, 2017 fell to $-27,950.
The budget for the water/sewer fund was approved at $1,482,346. Green said this includes the amounts required by law to make debt service payments of $103,298 for this fiscal year and the next 20 years.
The fund balance starting from the deficit is $118,588. Green said he expects the water/sewer fund to end Saturday about $150,000 in the red.
“This will be extremely difficult to arrive here even until three years without extremely careful review of all expenses, especially personnel,” he said.
Taking the Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project’s advice on water/sewer rate increases, the new budget includes $28 base fees for individuals living inside the town limits, with a $40 base fee for commercial customers inside the town limits. These base fees cover 3,000 gallons.
The outside individual base fee increased to $56 for 3,000 gallons and $10 for 1,000 gallons over. The outside commercial base fee is $80 for 3,000 gallons and $10 for 1,000 gallons over.
A fully staffed Andrews Police Department staff was budgeted, providing salaries for four full-time and four part-time police officers. Green said the department has only one staff member today. The total cost for the police force, including retirement costs and health insurance for full-timers, is $288,341.
Resolution to repay general fund
The board unanimously voted to adopt a resolution, which ties in with the budget ordinance. As requested by the Local Government Commission, Green drafted a resolution to repay the general fund what was loaned to the water/sewer fund over the last couple of years.
Green said the town accumulated about $335,200 in debt owed to the general fund. Andrews commits to repay the general fund $20,000 in the 2018-19 fiscal year. The town will continue to budget no less than $20,000 every year until the amount is repaid.
“We must begin today to take the steps and we must not get complacent as the conditions begin to get better,” he said. “We must continue to keep expenses down daily, and collect everything and every dollar that’s owed to the town from every source.”