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Spring Lake Town Hall soon to be open for standard work week


SPRING LAKE — The town of Spring Lake will be moving to a standard work week when the furloughs end at the end of the month.  

For the first time in over two decades, Town Hall will be open for a standard Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. work week.

“It’s common sense. No other jurisdiction around operates on a shortened work week and we need to be accessible to citizens at all times during the normal business week,” interim Town Manager Joe Durham said after announcing the new business hours during the Board of Aldermen work session Monday night.

The town has worked on a modified Friday schedule since the early 2000s when Town Hall would close at noon, and it has incorporated the practice into the employee work week since. 

In January 2009, Town Hall closed on Fridays, which was presented as a way to save money. Under former Town Manager Larry Faison, the four-day work week was proposed as a way to cut energy costs and began that January. It was only supposed to last six months.  

“The gas prices at the time were climbing and they presented a four-day work week as a ‘green’ measure,” former town clerk Rhonda Webb said after the meeting.

Last July, the Local Government Commission introduced a 5% furlough for all employees with the exception of police and fire. It reduced pay for all general fund employees and the Board of Aldermen and reduced the workweek from 40 hours to 38 hours, closing Town Hall on Fridays.  

Durham said he would let the public know an effective date for the work week shift soon.

The board also heard several presentations, including an update on Fort Bragg by Col. Scott Pence, the garrison commander. He also addressed the proposed name change to Fort Liberty.

Pence said he charged the senior diverse panel to come up with possible names for Fort Bragg. A federal commission tasked by Congress with recommending new names for military installations named for Confederate officers has suggested that Fort Bragg become Fort Liberty.

“We are the only military installation that will use aspiration instead of a name,” said Pence citing where the word “liberty” is presented in unit connections such as the 82nd All American Song and local connections with the Liberty Point Resolves, signed in 1775 in downtown Fayetteville.

“We are very confident it is the right choice,” Pence said.

Proposed budget

 David Erwin, town finance officer and accounting and financial management advisor for the Department of the State Treasurer, also made a presentation as he opened a joint public hearing on the proposed budget between the town and the Local Government Commission.

Erwin recapped the budget highlights, which included no increase in property taxes and a 3% cost-of-living increase for town employees. The water rates are expected to be raised by 14% and sewer rates by 5%.  

He said the rate increases were due to blended components imposed by a 16% rate increase by the Public Works Commission, one of the town’s main sources for water, and by the town’s desire to follow the rate model put together in a water and sewer study by engineering firm MacConnell and Associates in 2020. The rate increases will help address needed infrastructure upgrades.

Two residents, Fredricka Sutherland and Lennox Jobe, spoke in opposition to their rising water bills.

“I’m concerned with the rise in water and sewer rates. We could use some help,” said Jobe, who spoke to members of the Local Government Commission as they video streamed live in the conference room.

Sutherland also spoke on the rising water rates.

“As a taxpayer for 42 years, I’m saddened by these rising rates. Is this really going to go back to the citizens?” said Sutherland, who outlined previous water rate increases.

Another cost savings presented in the budget is the transfer of the town recreation department to Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks & Recreation.

The board adopted a resolution for the town to be included in the Cumberland Recreation Service District, one of the first steps in an agreement between Cumberland County, the city of Fayetteville and Spring Lake.

“As Mr. Erwin stated, this is a part of the process for entering into the recreation tax district,” Durham said.

Durham said there were obvious cost savings and significant benefits, including the economy of scale with buying power and enhanced maintenance. He said there would be more documents for the town, including an interlocal agreement and an operational agreement where duties and responsibilities between the county, town and city would be outlined.

Alderman Marvin Lackman asked that a seat be designated on the Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks & Recreation committee for a Spring Lake resident.

“That’s a great point, and we can explore inclusion on the committee in order to have representation,” Durham said.

Alderwoman Adrian Thompson questioned whether the move would be permanent or temporary, and attorney Jonathan Charleston said it was anticipated to be a long-term solution.

“This is a smart solution for the town and, keep in mind, the town retains ownership of real and personal property, but you are able to participate in a more comprehensive parks and recreation department,” Charleston said.

Charleston added that the city of Fayetteville and Fort Bragg are also entering a joint agreement for a new sports park.

A proposed public hearing by the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners on the proposed parks and recreation merger is scheduled for June 20.  

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, budget, work week, parks and recreation, Local Government Commission