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Fountain employees garner 3 percent raises


By Dean-Paul Stephens
The Enterprise

Monday, July 17, 2017

FOUNTAIN — Town employees will receive a 3 percent cost-of-living adjustment in the 2017-18 fiscal year. Each employee will also receive end-of-year Christmas bonuses of $500.

The Fountain Board of Commissioners approved the adjustment and the town’s $1.15 million 2017-18 fiscal year budget following a June 27 public hearing.

The budget does not include a property tax increase. Fountain's tax rate will remain at 0.5875 cents per $100 valuation. The total tax rate is a combination of the town's tax rate of 50 cents and the fire tax rate of $.0875.

Fountain Commissioner Alex Albright asked if the town has finalized its efforts to separate the two tax rates, which Town Clerk Leigh Hines said is something the town can do following a lengthy process.

“We need to contact the state tax department and then there needs to be a public meeting,” Hines said. “There are just a lot of steps.”

The addition of the fire tax rate to the town's property tax rate could give people wanting to move to Fountain the wrong impression about its tax rate, which appears high compared to other municipalities in Pitt County, Albright said.

The approved budget also does not include water or sewer rate increases.

“Water and sewer rates will remain the same at this time in spite of an increase from the town of Farmville's water rate increase of five percent,” Hines said in her budget message to the board.

The town managed to go another year without withdrawing contingency funds, she added.

Fountain's budget is split between the general, electric and water and sewer funds. The town's highest revenue source is property taxes, which are projected to total $100,000 with an additional $5,000 tax injection from the county.

The town is likely to not receive any back taxes from previous years, according to Hines.

The Wellness Center and Needs Center are budgeted at $9,500 and $6,000, respectively. The town's library is budgeted at $15,300.

The town will pay $18,300 for its fire service agreement and an additional $14,800 for the fire truck. The rescue squad is budgeted at $6,000 with $5,000 for operating expenses and $1,000 for rescue utilities.

The town budgeted $800 in animal shelter fees, higher than the previous fiscal year's allocation of $320. This was to account for new animal control fees.

“Pitt County is increasing our pick up fee. It went from $40 to $80 for each dog,” Hines said.

The general fund’s final budget comes in at $278,500.

The electric fund totals $608,050, the bulk of which is derived from a projected $545,000 in utility charges for the 2017-18 fiscal year. Revenue from electric sales tax is projected at $36,500 with an additional $25,000 projected for penalties and fees.

Electric purchases are expected to cost the town $290,000, more than the 2016-17 amount of $272,725.

The town's water and sewer fund is projected to total $265,050. Sewer charges make up $109,000, while water charges are projected at $140,000.

Sewer purchases were budgeted at $53,000, the same budgeted amount from the 2016-17 fiscal year. Water purchases, however, increased to $105,000, higher than the budgeted amount of $81,000 for the 2016-17 fiscal year.

The Enterprise serves western Pitt County including Falkland, Farmville and Fountain.