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Board to address budget priorities, ordinances


At the Spring Lake Board of Aldermen work session Monday, aldermen will address upcoming budget priorities and also consider revising the town’s subdivision ordinance. 

The board will meet at 6 p.m. in the Grady Howard conference room at the Spring Lake Town Hall. Here’s a look at what’s ahead:

Budget priorities

The board will use part of its work session Monday to discuss budget priorities, focusing on key areas such as infrastruture improvements, public safety enhancements and community development projects, according to the pre-meeting agenda materials. 

Alderman Raul Palacios said ahead of the Monday meeting that budget priorities he’ll address include ensuring the town has an updated water study before considering a water and sewer rate increase, pay raises for town staff, adding an ordinance and budget for rejuvenating the Adopt a Street program and adding a budget item for public art. He said last year an amendment was made post-budget and $8,000 was reimbursed to the town from the Arts Council of Fayetteville/ Cumberland County. 

Other board priorities from previous meetings include hiring a permanent town manager, a finance director and other finance staff, as well as improving the town’s water and wastewater infrastructure.

The board also met Wednesday at a special meeting with the state’s Local Government Commission staff, including Finance Officer Kendra Boyle and Deputy Finance Officer Tiffany Anderson, to discuss updates regarding the upcoming required state audit of financial statements. 

Spring Lake’s last audit was completed in June 2020. In June 2021, the state’s Local Government Commission waived the audit requirement after declaring that the finances were in such disarray that they were not auditable. The LGC assumed control of Spring Lake’s finances in October 2021.

Boyle said as staff was looking at accounts receivable, they noticed aged balances were surprisingly high. She informed the board that $1.17 million in total owed accounts are 91 days past due; $214,000 are in active accounts and $963,000 are from inactive accounts that have been left sitting on the books. 

According to Alderman Marvin Lackman, both the active and inactive accounts are being investigated and exist partly because of poor past recordkeeping, an issue cited in the investigative audit report released by the North Carolina Office of the State Auditor in 2022. He added that most overdue accounts are delinquent water bills, but also include fire inspection fees.

Boyle said she would be asking questions of the billing staff and needed the support of the board in order to get complete, accurate and well-researched answers for the auditors. 

She said the town will work to collect past due funds.

Changes to subdivision ordinance

The board will also hear a presentation by Interim Town Manager Jason Williams and Inspections Supervisor and Zoning Administrative Officer Patricia Hickmon regarding two proposed changes to the Spring Lake subdivision ordinance.

One change would allow final plat approval to be approved at staff level. The other proposed change for public safety is to require sidewalks on all streets in subdivisions located within the town. Locations would be determined by town staff. 

At the board’s last meeting Feb.12, Town Attorney Michael Porter suggested the town review ordinances to prevent economic development projects from the necessity of going through numerous approval processes by the board of aldermen. The oversight was caught as the board approved the final plat for a new Starbucks in Skyland Shopping Center after agent George Rose, on behalf of PES Development LLC, was asked to come several times before both the town board and county planning department for approval.

Currently, the Cumberland County Planning and Inspections Department is updating its subdivision ordinance for the unincorporated areas of the county.

County Planning Director Rawls Howard said Friday the two subdivision ordinances are unrelated and that the county only provides links to the Spring Lake ordinance on its website.

Jami McLaughlin can be reached at jmclaughlin@cityviewnc.com or 910-391-4870.

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spring lake aldermen budget