Hamlet budget prompts the ‘t’ word

By Kevin Spradlin

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May 21 – Hamlet budget ‘a hot mess’
May 2 – Budget includes wish list of items

HAMLET — All five City Council members voted Tuesday night to approve Hamlet’s 2014-15 budget, which goes into effect July 1.

HamletThe budget projects $5.35 million in general fund expenditures, with 27.9 percent earmarked for police services and 22.1 percent designated for fire protection. Another 10.3 percent is for sanitation, 8.4 percent for streets and highways and 7.5 percent for administration.

In addition, the city adopted a $2.57 million enterprise fund budget. Proceeds from water sales, sewer charges, taps and connection fees and reconnection fees fund the enterprise fund and in FY 2015.

The city’s tax rate of 66 cents per $100 of assessed property value will remain the same, Mayor Bill Bayless said.

While virtually no city department received its entire wish list, council members noted that even some of the items on the city’s “needs” list went unfulfilled.

That doesn’t bode well for the future, council members said.

Councilman Pat Preslar, who has said he will not seek re-election, noted that the cost of insurance increased by 16 percent, or $62,000. That’s an item that’s bound to keep going up.

“I don’t want to say the ‘t’ word … but at some point, that might come into play,” said Preslar, noting there is no known source of additional revenue and, depending on action by state lawmakers, the city could lose business license tax revenue in the upcoming fiscal year.

The adopted budget includes taking $821,720 from the city’s fund balance. It’s needed to balance the budget, council members agreed, but Preslar noted that “it’s not a pot we want to go to very often.”

The city’s fund balance is currently at about 39 percent. In FY 2015, subtracting the $821,720, it drops to about 34 percent. That’s much higher than the state minimum of 8 percent, members noted, but Councilman Jesse McQueen confirmed it’s significantly lower than the state average of 66 percent of North Carolina’s municipalities.

“The future really frightens me a little bit,” McQueen said. “Everybody wants a police station, fire protection, a rec center, a senior center … it’s getting to the point where the money is not being here to fund the things that we have, let alone the things that we want.”

McQueen called on city residents to “hold us accountable” and to participate in the process by attending budget and council meetings and speaking up where an individual deems it appropriate and necessary. Without input, the city’s elected officials will be left to figure it out for themselves, McQueen said. And the answer’s rather obvious.

“At some point, we’re either going to have to create more (revenue) … or cut some services,” McQueen said.

Also on Tuesday:

* The mayor and council approved a resolution recognizing the work of the late Army Command Sgt. Major Ed O’Neal, who was instrumental in Hamlet getting the Veterans Affairs Community-Based Outpatient Clinic and was a steadfast advocate for veterans long after his retirement from the Army in 1976. The resolution requests Sen. Kay Hagan and Rep. Richard Hudson to work towards having the Hamlet VA clinic renamed in O’Neal’s honor.

* Appointed Nancy Averitte, of Maple Avenue, and Linda Bayless, of Oak Avenue, to be charter members of the Opera House steering committee. Along with Miranda Chavis of the Hamlet Depot & Museums, the council appointed Mayor Bill Bayless to the board to represent the city. Bill and Linda are husband and wife.

* Appointed Denise Ann McGhee, of Martin McGhee Road, and Sherry Boyette, of Lumyer Road, to serve on the Hamlet Depot & Museum board of directors.

* Approved $172,425 in budget amendments to the current fiscal year budget. The amendments, funded by a similar figure in general fund revenues, will pay for an increase of $48,450 in police department salaries, $32,500 in fire department salaries and $12,700 in streets and highways department maintenance, repair and equipment.





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  • http://www.carolinasignworks.com Dean Lawrence

    If their looking for “revenue” …I, as a Hamlet resident for 21 years ,would like to see some serious, creative revitalization of Main St. Empty store fronts and lack of business traffic issues need to be addressed to pump up the local economy. It’s shame the Depot has such limited hours and poor visitor promotional efforts. Get some aggressive Real Estate professionals to market the area with a proven plan by similar entrepreneurs . It’s all been done before in other cities. The City government is Not the answer to the problem. Enterprising Business people with INCENTIVES from the city is.

  • Pingback: Hudson introduces bill to rename Hamlet VA clinic after CSM O’Neal | The Pee Dee Post()

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