Right out of the gate Councilor Steve Gibson made a motion to reduce the town’s water and sewer rates by 3% rather than make the 3% hike that the mayor was requesting. Mayor Dewey noted that a previous council five years ago established a five-year tax increment increase that would be applied annually and this was the last hike in that process.
Gibson said that in his opinion the last hike wasn’t necessary and in fact the rate could be reduced because there was plenty of money left over in the water and sewer fund from last year.
Dewey said that there was always left-over revenue in the funds as part of a reserve for unforeseen circumstances. He said the rate hike was designed to accrue funds for the last phase of the water system improvement project which is to build a new storage facility near the current well field.
The mayor’s rationale did not hold water as far as Gibson was concerned. He believed there was plenty of money for now and stuck to his motion. The 3% reduction was approved unanimously.
Next, Gibson moved to hire two seasonal employees for the Public Works Department instead of the one full-time employee that the Mayor’s budget requested. He said it was the recommendation of the Public Works director to hire two seasonal workers and it would also cost less. The motion was approved unanimously.
Gibson also disagreed with the proposed allocation for a car for the Building Permit department employees. He read off a list
of town vehicles and their costs and then said he believed the town had enough vehicles already and the building inspectors could use one of the existing vehicles if they need one. He moved to “not have a car for the Building Department.” This motion was also approved unanimously.
Councilor Robin Holcomb moved to “not give Main Street Association the $10,000” that had been budgeted for economic development. She questioned whether the organization had done anything to increase the town’s tax base and noted that the original funding from the town was supposed to last only three years and it was beyond time to quit it. Some concern over a potential conflict of interest on the Mayor’s part was expressed since he sits on the Main Street Association board of directors.
Mayor Dewey denied having any conflict of interest and said he gained nothing from being on the Main Street board.
Several people in the audience spoke against funding the Main Street program. The council voted 3 to 0 to eliminate the funding. Councilor Dempsey Vick abstained from voting without offering a reason.
The council also voted to give a 2% across-the-board raise to all staff members, but removed any COLA or merit-based raises.
They also voted to raise the monthly stipend for council members from $200 to $225 effective in January 2020.