JONESVILLE — The Jonesville Town Council discussed changing water rates, the demolition of the old town hall building, and other matters at its monthly meeting Monday.
Discussion was continued from a special meeting held in July 25 on water rates and how the town had to meet the amount needed to break even on expenses, following a letter received from the state. The town would need to raise an additional $65,000 monthly to cover expenses and is 7.25-percent below what’s needed to meet these needs.
“The letter we received from the State Treasurer’s Office stated that our water rates should be set to an amount necessary to cover all those issues,” said Town Manager Scott Buffkin. “I have developed five options which I believe will cover that shortfall. They would all affect different sides of customers. Setting rates is more of an art than a science; there’s no right way to do it.”
The letter requested a response in 45 days when it was sent on July 5.
“Waiting any further is just going to put us that much further into the hole,” said Buffkin. “We are considering our rate situation and finding what is appropriate.”
Commissioner Tracy Wall made a motion to table the matter for the next meeting, so they could have a public hearing on the different rates.
The five plan options presented on how Jonesville can meet its expenses include:
• Increase the base fee (maintain base usage at 2,000 gallons) by $2 per month and increase volumetric rate by $1 to $7.50 per 1,000.
• Maintain the volumetric rate at $6.50 per 1,000, eliminate the base usage included in the base fee (all usage is billed at volumetric rate) — base fee could be reduced to about $15.
• Reduce base usage to 1,000 gallons per month and base fee to $15 per month (only 1,000 gallons included in base fee, all other usage counted in volumetric rate). Additional usage of about 935,000 gallons monthly would be included in the volumetric rate. Volumetric rate would need to increase by about $1.85 per 1,000 gallons from $6.50 to $8.35 per 1,000.
• Reduce base usage to 1,000 gallons per month and maintain base fee at $20 per month (only 1,000 gallons included in base fee, all other usage counted in volumetric rate). Additional usage of about 935,000 gallons monthly would be included in the volumetric rate. Volumetric rate would needed to increase by about $1.35 per 1,000 gallons from $6.50 to $7.85 per 1,000.
• Increase base usage to 4,000 gallons per month and increase base fee to $40 per month. Keep volumetric rate at $6.50 per 1,000.
All five options will generate the money needed to meet the expenses, officials reported.
“Maybe some member of the public can help us stream line one of these ideas,” said Commissioner Judy Wolfe. “I have spoken out for a reduction for those who use less than the minimum, which is 2,000 gallons. Sixty percent of our residents use less than the minimum amount.”
The matter was tabled for further discussion in September to give the public a chance to give input during a hearing.
As the meeting continued, discussion was continued on the possible demolition of the old town hall building. Town staff checked with the previous low bidder to confirm the bid of $23,000 to demolish the building. Prior to demolition, the town would need to complete the disposal of remaining personal property possibly by public auction, and relocate all town records in the building. The building also would need to be surveyed for asbestos and hazardous substances.
“I would like to say that before we move to demolish, we should find out what it’s going to cost for asbestos and hazardous material assessments because that could run another $15,000 to $20,000 I would estimate and make it a more costly venture,” said Wolfe.
The matter was held off until the September meeting to provide time to check numbers and costs for further work needed.
During her report, Branch Librarian Barbara Gilpin spoke on the Jonesville Public Library to give a quick update on the summer reading program. According to Gilpin, they had four new programs this year, 68 participants, 26 programs total, 7,288 books read and a total of 218,955 minutes on average.
“We received great feedback from the participants this year,” said Gilpin. “Kudos to the families who participated this year ‘cause there are statistics that say that kids who read during the summer maintain their grade level. Even with the depletion of our Easies collection, we had a great turnout this summer. We have also obtained a lot of new books over the past few months thanks to the generosity of the community. We’ve seen a lot of new faces with our summer reading programs. We’re looking forward to the fall and the coming school year and we see some great things happening.”
The library also is holding a Back to School Bash on Aug. 27 in the library to give families a fun activity while helping them get their kids ready for the coming school year.
During the public comments portion of the meeting, Jonesville resident Bridget Henderson expressed her concerns on the Jonesville Historical Society and how she would like to see financial reports to see how the tax money provided to the society was being used.
“I would really be interested in hearing a monthly update from somebody in charge of the Jonesville Historical Society and what they’re doing with the money that you all have given them,” said Henderson. “Are there programs and stuff that our citizens get to come to that we see our tax money being used by citizens that are paying that money? Might we be able to expect such a report sometime in the future?”
In other business, the addition of better dental plans was discussed for town employees.
“For several years the town has offered basic dental coverage for all its full-time employees,” said Buffkin. “The insurance pool we’re a member of for that benefit will now allow individual employees to opt up for dental two and three for better coverage, although there is an added cost for that. We want to give our employees the chance to choose that amount. The town currently pays $17 per month per employee. The next step up would be another $11 per month and the best program would be another $20 per month.”
The resolution was passed unanimously to allow the new dental options.
The Zacchaeus Legal Services Contract was discussed. For the past several years, the town had retained the Zacchaeus Legal Services to perform tax foreclosures which Yadkin County also had retained for this purpose. The county’s had allowed the town to split the legal cost of mutual foreclosures.
Zacchaeus requested an extension of the contract until Aug. 1, 2020, with a fee for town-only actions of $800 per foreclosure action until Jan. 31, 2018, and $850 for the remainder of the term of the contract. The fee for joint representation with the town and county in the case of a mutual foreclosure would be $950 per foreclosure action until Jan. 31, 2018, and $1,000 for the remainder of the term of the contract.
The board approved the contract unanimously.
A resolution to declare surplus property was passed including two of the police department’s former vehicles which were now out of service. Both vehicles are having serious issues, and Buffkin does not see a great demand for them in the near future.
Troy Brooks may be reached at 336-258-4058.