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Hearing on Spring Lake budget set for Monday night


SPRING LAKE — The Board of Aldermen on Monday night, along with the Local Government Commission, will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget, and it also is expected to pass a resolution to bring the town into the Cumberland County Recreation Service District.

The regularly scheduled work session will begin at 6 p.m.; the public hearing on the proposed 2023 budget will be held at 7 p.m. in a joint meeting of the Local Government Commission and the town board. The meeting will be in the Grady Howard conference room at Town Hall. 

The $13.3 million proposed budget would keep the property tax rate unchanged at 70 cents per $100 valuation.

The proposed budget is conservative, said interim Town Manager Joe Durham. It does not include staff furloughs that were implemented this year. 

Finance Officer David Erwin said water and sewer rates will be raised to address other rising costs. 

“The budget requires no property tax increase. There are rate increases to the Water and Sewer Utility Fund,” said Erwin, who also is the accounting and financial management advisor for the Department of the State Treasurer.

Erwin told the board in a pre-meeting message that the proposed 14% increase in water and 5% increase in sewer rates were necessary due to the 16% increase to the town by Fayetteville PWC. Additionally, rate increases were necessary to support planned infrastructure upgrades and to cover inflation costs. 

“We all know we need to repair our infrastructure,’’ Alderman Marvin Lackman said. “We have outdated infrastructure being held together by band-aids and it has to be addressed. Our water rates have remained the same for several years and put our accounts in crisis.” 

Alderman Raul Palacios echoed the need for the rate increase but said he doesn’t want residents to be alarmed about the proposed increase.

“I do not want Spring Lake citizens to be surprised by the increase in water/sewer rates,’’ Palacios said. “Last year was our first year with the increased rates, and when I calculated my own bill, my bill will go up about $6 for water/sewer next fiscal year.

"We knew this budget would be tight and these hard choices are required for Spring Lake. This budget may not be what Spring Lake wants, but it's what we need.” 

The town also is considering a transfer of its parks and recreation department to the county’s recreation service district as another way to save money.

“When I looked at our audits, recreation cost the town over $700,000 each year to operate,’’ Palacios said. “This year, we are budgeting $309,000, which is an obvious savings.’’

Becoming part of the county’s recreation service district would mean an increase in taxes to Cumberland County, but the town plans to alleviate that by lowering its recreation tax rate. 

“The change to the county tax district requires a $.05 tax rate increase to Spring Lake residents,’’ Durham said. “However, Spring Lake with the LGC will look to lower our current tax rate so it’s a wash.” 

Durham said part of the agreement would include the town still owning facilities and land as well as the capital debt service.

Palacios says he also plans to ask about ownership of property. He said other county parks that he’s researched have kept ownership of property in similar agreements. 

Cumberland County has scheduled a public hearing for June 20 on the Spring Lake proposal to join the county’s recreation service district.

Residents who want to comment on the budget must sign up no later than 6 p.m. Monday by emailing slgfd@nctreasurer.com. Written comments will also be accepted via email.

A copy of the budget can be found at www.townofspringlake.com or at https://www.nctreasurer.com/links/ state-and-local-government-finance/lgc/units-under-financial-control-lgc.

Jami McLaughlin covers Spring Lake for CityView TODAY. She can be reached at jmclaughlin@cityviewnc.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.

Spring Lake, Board of Aldermen, Local Government Commission, budget, recreation