JONESVILLE — Jonesville Town Council held its latest budget meeting on May 23. During the meeting, the board discussed two major projects and concerns — the allocation of money for a grant to repair the town’s water system and the initiation of a new vehicle fee.
One of the major topics discussed by the council was the town’s water problems and funding for a grant to fix the distribution system. The town council will be asserting some funds into an asset management plan study which will help the town gain more points on the grant’s application.
“Our application last time was just a few points short of what was needed to score in order to be funded for the repairs,” said Town Manager Scott Buffkin. “Having this asset management plan in place, as I understand, will give us 10 bonus points, which would have more than made up the difference last year and would have gotten our project funded. We’ve put in approximately $10,000 to pay for that study and we’re looking to have it completed this summer so we can apply for that block grant again this fall.”
The board also has been looking at alternatives for funding the water system repairs if the grant isn’t awarded. However, most of those other methods are in the form of low-interest loans which have to be paid back and the council would prefer to use grant money if possible. At this point, the council is resolved to the fact that if it does not get the grant funded, then the town is going to have to look at some other way of financing this project.
“There are some parts of town that simply cannot wait any longer for the improvements that are needed,” said Buffkin. “Right now we are happy to say that we are not proposing any water rate increase.The water department has only one source of revenue to pay our bills and that’s from charging our customers for the water they use. We try to be sensitive to people’s issues like that and to keep the water bills as affordable as possible. However, there are certain financial realities that we face. We must pay our bills and we must prepare to operate the system so we’re protecting the public health at the same time.”
In other news, during the budget meeting, Buffkin recommended a total bottom-line of $857,690, which is an increase of just under $2,000 from the current budget. Buffkin is not proposing any major rate increases or decreases for the time being. One implementation the council did discuss was the proposal to initiate a $30 vehicle fee for every motor vehicle registered within the town limits. According to Buffkin, that money would be specifically designated for street paving and maintenance.
“The state changed the law last year to allow towns and cities to implement that fee of $30 and it takes affect July 1. Before now, we did not have that same authority,” said Buffkin. “In that sense, it’s new for any location in the state. I’ve noticed that the city of Greensboro has proposed to do the same thing. By state law that money does have to be allocated to street improvements which is similar to limitations as for example the Powell Bill, where a portion of the state tax of gasoline is directed back to the municipalities to help with street maintenance.”
The council has proposed to increase its paving allocation from $25,000 to $75,000, roughly tripling the amount. Buffkin feels that the improvements would be beneficial to the town, improving the safety and reliable of the town’s roads. The council also will be looking for input from residents during the budget hearing.
The next budget workshop till take place June 6 at 6:30 p.m. Buffkin stated that the council members be talking about employee health insurance and other miscellaneous topics which haven’t been discussed yet.
Troy Brooks may be reached at 336-258-4058.