Rowland commissioners OK budget that keeps property tax rate unchanged but raises water and sewer fees

The Robesonian
The Robesonian
The Rowland Board of Commissioners approved a $1.7 million spending plan, presented by Town Clerk David Townsend, during the workshop meeting held Wednesday. Tomeka Sinclair | The Robesonian

ROWLAND — A $1.7 million budget for fiscal year 2021-22 that keeps property taxes unchanged but does increase water and sewer fees was approved Wednesday by the town Board of Commissioners.

The budget approved during a special workshop meeting was the fourth draft and was not met by arguments of objections from residents at the meeting.

Commissioner Paul Hunt did request that a concern about salaries in the budget be discussed during closed session. However, no changes were made to the proposed budget after commissioners returned to open session.

The spending plan, which totals $1,773,700, is a $300,000 increase from the previous year’s budget, which was frugal because of the possibility of a decline in revenue as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Money expected from the American Rescue Plan also contributed to the increased budget, Town Clerk David Townsend said. The town is expecting $120,000 from the federal stimulus package.

The budget includes a $1,141,050 General Fund, with more than half — $592,800 — going to the town’s Police Department. The fund also includes $140,024 for administrative costs, $123,000 for sanitation and a Powell Bill fund of $100,300.

The Water/Sewer Fund totals $632,650.

As done in the past two years, the town will increase water and sewer fees by $1 for residents. This means a resident who receives water, sewer or solid waste services will see a $2-a-month increase in fees.

“We’re going up in our water rates from $21 per month to $22 per month,” Townsend said. “The sewer rates will go from $24 to $25.”

“This does not include the sold waste,” he added

The town is also increasing the water overage rate from .231 cents to .365 cents for residents who exceed 2,000 gallons.

“That rate has been the same for over 10 years,” Townsend said.

The fee increases and rate change are part of the town’s five-year plan to slowly increase the fees to the state’s average. By raising the rates to the state average, it places Rowland in line to receive grants to fund repairs to or to replace aging town facilities.

The approved budget does not include a property tax increase, keeping the tax rate at 79 cents for every $100 in property value.

“This year’s budget, I think will be a whole lot smoother and cleaner,” Townsend said.

Also Wednesday, Police Chief Charles Graham told commissioners he has sent letters to law enforcement agencies throughout the state, asking if they had vehicles they wished to donate or sell at discounted prices to the department.

“We’ve got a couple of responses, and we’re going to see what that generates,” he said.

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