Williamston budget highlights

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Information provided by the mayor and administrator as part of their budget presentation shows that under their direction the town of Williamston has seen considerable savings during the last year. The town is also undergoing several large capital improvement projects.

Under savings, one of the biggest came by early closing on a loan for the Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) upgrade, which saved the town $12,400 a year. The savings amount to $496,000 over the life of the loan.

By making reduction of overtime a priority, the town was able to cut overtime expense, saving $9,220 in the water department budget and $1,670 in the police department budget last year.

Cleaning up a fines and warrants account in the police department will save approximately $15,000 in auditors fees for a special audit that has been necessary on the accounts.

Unfortunately for some people who had outstanding warrants, the information was recently placed into the NCIS system as part of the process and fines or warrants dating back years are now showing up in the system.

Identified changes and challenges for the town include several capital improvement projects.

Completion and startup of the WWTP upgrade is a big one. The upgrade is almost complete and the town plans to have a special ceremony soon to mark the occassion. The town has $325,000 in grant money left from the projec which will be used to purchase equipment for the plant.

Other capital improvements include Completion and approval of the SCDOT Transportation Enhancement project; CDBG grant for $447,611 for sewer line improvement, of which the town has already paid their match of $52,389; CDBG grant of $180,000 for the Church Street project; and replacement of Center St. water line which was covered by a $30,000 grant from the county.

Capital improvements planned for the town this year include paving the Municipal Center parking lot. The $230,000 project will be paid for from the Capital Replacement fund. No additional capital improvements are planned for 18 to 24 months.

The town plans to purchase 100 new radio read water meters at a cost of $100 to $120 each in an effort to continue to upgrade meters on the system. The town has about 250 of their 3500 customers using the new meters and plan to upgrade at least 100 each year. As the numbers increase, there is a substantial saving in time and labor required to read meters, Lollis said.

Like most everyone else in government and private, Williamston is dealing with a loss of revenue, estimated at $193,500, for the 2012-13 budget year.

Expected reductions in revenue include: Aid to Subdivision being reduced $50,000; manufacturers exemption (loss of Mount Vernon) $40,000; Palmetto Pride Grants, $2,500; MASC Insurance Premiums, down $25,000; loss of a grant for a police officer, $35,000 which the town is now covering; a decrease in the sanitation department of $26,000 due to reduction of $1 in the garbage fee; and reduction in the hospitality tax revenue of approximately $15,000 while the Clock restaurant was closed.

The town is also expecting a four percent increase in health insurance costs at $12,000 and a rate increase for workers compensation insurance amounting to $14,245.

Williamston currently has a millage rate of 110 mills, which has remained the same since 2006. In 2005 the rate was 106 mills and in 2000, 120 mills. If a tax increase were necessary, the town is limited to a four mill increase per year.

The Mayor’s objectives for the budget include providing essential service and programs for residents, budget for police, fire, water and sewer, garbage/trash removal, recreation for town residents by the most economical means possible and do it with no tax increase.

(See budget workshop story for additional details on the Williamston budget)