Residents fired up over water

Published 8:08 am Friday, May 29, 2009

WINDSOR—Public hearings on a proposed $1.9 million budget for fiscal 2009-10 and a proposed five-year capital improvements plan for the Town of Windsor brought negative responses from several residents at Tuesday night’s council meeting.

In regard to the capital improvements plan, Kim Gore, who lives on Old Suffolk Road, which is located in an area annexed by the town several years ago, asked council to reconsider running water lines to this area.

“It’s going to cost the residents not only to connect to the water system but for water usage. And I understand you’re going to raise the rates. With one daughter getting ready for college, I , for one, just can’t afford it.”

When annexation occurred, the town made plans to run water lines to all outlying areas and is now in the process of starting this project. The project includes drilling another well to meet this demand and to support the town’s existing water supply.

Ren Spivey, who lives within the original town limits, questioned the town’s taking on such a large debt. He said he realized the well was necessary but felt the town could “put off” installing additional lines.

As for the proposed increase in water rates, he could soon be paying more for water than for town taxes, he said.

Macon Edwards said he also had some questions. “I have read through the proposed budgets — general, water and cemetery — and even though you say overall it will be five percent less than this year, my figures show that there will be an increase.

“We have a lot of people here living on fixed incomes and with the economy so tight, I think we should look at all the budget and at least postpone the new water lines until we have more growth.”

In related discussion after the hearings, some council members wondered if it would be possible to hold off on installing the water lines, but Councilman Westley Garris reminded the council that the town could probably get a better price for the installation now than at any time in the future.

“We promised the annexed area town water and I think we should go ahead and do it.”

Councilwoman Carita Richardson expressed concern about putting more expense on town residents but noted that it had to be done.

In questions regarding the budget, interim Town Manager John Rowe explained that the proposed budget’s general fund was balanced and had been done without any increase in taxes or use of the fund balance.

He said further that the town would be spending less next year than now, resulting in a five percent decrease.

One change this year, Rowe said, is the way the budget is presented. “We used a different format which makes it easier for the reader to understand.

“For instance, previously, if you wanted a total of all salaries paid, you’d have to go through all three budgets to get it. This year, we’ve included all salary information in the general fund and any portion that relates to the other two funds, will be charged back to that specific account as an indirect expense.

“This means that portions of a salary relating to either the cemetery or water fund will show up on that budget as an expense and on the general fund as revenue.”

Rowe says the combined budget is a “maintenance of effort budget.”

“It is a guarded approach to the next fiscal year — we are very cautious and conservative in our general fund revenue projections; likewise we are taking a very cautious approach in our expenditures.

“It is necessary to change the structure of our water rates, however,” he said, “because water sales are down.

“But the budget does not cut or reduce any municipal services for 2009-2010.”

Council members will vote on the budgets at 7 p.m. June 9.