GRIFTON — Cost-of-living and merit pay increases for employees are proposed in the 2021-22 fiscal year budget for the Contentnea Metropolitan Sewerage District.

Other than these pay hikes, the $2.5 million budget will have few changes from the previous year, according to CMSD Director Chuck Smithwick.

Based off of current flow predictions, the town of Ayden is expected to pay the district $970,951. Winterville will generate $1,011,902 and Grifton is expected to pay $425,503.

The 2021-22 sewer charges are based on the amount of water treated during the 2019-20 budget year.

The town of Ayden continues to work on lowering its expected payment, according to town manager Matt Livingston.

The town has undergone several infrastructure replacement projects and asset inventory assessments to determine the causes of leaks and water infiltration, Livingston said.

The CMSD budget includes $2.5 million in expenditures, with the bulk consisting of plant operations and maintenance. The budget sets aside $25,000 for contingencies.

“This comes in handy on occasion,” Smithwick said.

A 2.6% cost of living increase is included for employees as well as a 2% merit increase. Due to financial uncertainty caused by COVID-19, employees did not receive any increase in the 2019-20 fiscal year budget, Smithwick said.

A new contract with Environment 1 will allow for CMSD to save some money in the future, he said.

Currently, CMSD is required to perform daily tests and conduct labs on its operation to ensure the plant is in good working order.

Due to the plant’s improved performance through the years, Smithwick requested the N.C. Division of Water and Quality re-evaluate CMSD’s permits and allow reduced testing. The state approved the change.

“You will see the benefit in the following year. We will not be doing as much lab testing. We are trying to streamline our staff,” Smithwick said.

No positions will be cut, he said. CMSD has an employee retiring in the coming year. When the employee retires, CMSD will hire a part-time worker to take their place.

“Everyone out there who is full-time now, will be staying full-time,” Smithwick said.

No action was taken on the budget. CMSD members are expected to vote on it at their June meeting.

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