05/02/17 — Mount Olive board member resigns

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Mount Olive board member resigns

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 2, 2017 9:57 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- District 3 town Commissioner Tom Preston Monday night said that he will resign effective May 31 to move to Wilmington where his business, Preston Management Inc. Roofing and Insulation, is headquartered

Also on Monday, the board took the wraps off its proposed $3.95 million general fund budget for fiscal year 2017-18.

All five commissioners and the mayor are up for election this year.

Preston asked to be included on a committee to consider someone to replace him since he was elected.

"I want to thank all of the people who voted for me and had confidence in me," he said. "I hate to leave, but it is something I have to do. Our home office is in Wilmington and has been for two or three years. I am running myself ragged running back and forth.

"We have four grandchildren in Wilmington, and a new one there who is 2 months old."

Mayor Ray McDonald Sr. said he would like for the board to name a replacement as soon as possible.

Preston said he knows of someone who would be a good replacement if the board would agree. He did not identify the person.

The state's Open Meetings Law requires that a public body, such as a town council, "may not consider or fill a vacancy among its own membership except in an open meeting."

The budget proposal retains the tax rate of 64 cents per $100 worth of property value and does not include any fee increases.

At the present tax base valuation of $218,840,054, one cent on the tax rate generates $21,481.01 in revenue.

The budget proposal includes a built-in 2.5 percent increase in water and sewer rates.

The board approved the annual increase in 2008 to be maintained effective July 1, 2017, and Jan. 1, 2018.

The increase is included to address concerns by the Local Government Commission that the town's water and sewer revenues are not adequate to cover operating expenses and debt service.

Also, the town has replaced old mechanical water meters with new radio read meters which is anticipated to generate an additional 8 percent in revenue.

There are no proposed new rate increases in the proposal for solid waste.

The proposal includes a 2.5 percent across-the-board cost-of-living salary adjustment for all employees with some key personnel receiving slightly higher increases.

"We are proud of the fact that with this budget, we no longer have any employees working at the poverty level," Brown said in his budget message to the board.

He also calls it a "no-frills" projection of revenues and expenditures.

Funding under the $3,950,294 general fund includes (with the current year in parenthesis):

* Governing Board, $168,793 ($158,104).

* Town Manager, $178,747 ($172,046).

* Administration, $307,931 ($284,310).

* Public Works, $348,324 ($349,187).

* Trash Department, $538,345 ($534,739).

* Planning/Inspections, $92,373 ($94,925).

* Municipal Buildings, $204,230 ($197,234).

* Police Department, $1,482,829 ($1,353,154).

* Fire Department, $309,231 ($283,771).

* Parks and Recreation, $212,178 ($221,981).

* Cemetery, $61,700 ($61,700).

* Capital Reserve, $45,613 ($29,073).

The $2,977,619 water/sewer fund includes $2,211,610 for operations and maintenance; $659,989 for debt service and insurance; and $106,020 for capital reserve.

Other funds include: Airport, $276,002 and Waylin Fire Fund, $123,859.

What remains unknown is what insurance will cost. Brown said he has been assured it will not be more than a 10 percent increase in premiums.

In his budget message, Brown said the town has been able to maintain a healthy fund balance with a combined balance of $2,303,786 as of June 30, 2016. That is a decrease of $115,651, but those funds have been replaced during the year ending this June 30, he said.

The budget does not include any privilege license revenue since the Legislature continues to try to limit sources of municipal revenues, he said.

As such, the town still has no replacement for more than $40,000 in privilege license fees disallowed in 2015-2016.

In other business, the board rescinded early motions to award a nearly $1 million water/sewer project to Central Builders that submitted the low bid.

The board took the action after McDonald announced that the company had been able to secure a performance bond -- a requirement to do the work.

The board then voted to award the contract to T.A. Loving Co. of Goldsboro. Brown said the company's bid was about $25,000 more than Central Builders, but still within the Community Development Block Grant funding that will pay for the work.

The approximately $890,000 project is for the replacement of water lines on Williamson, Kelley and Fleer streets and replacement of sewer lines on Williamson and Fleer streets.