by Carrie C. Causey
FRANKLINTON — Town Manager Tammy Ray officially presented the budget to commissioners Tuesday night during a specially called board meeting.
Franklinton staff have been working on the 2013-14 fiscal year plan for months and met with the town board for further discussion and cutbacks.
Tuesday’s meeting offered few changes to what had previously been discussed, but was meant to serve as the official budget presentation of the final proposal.
Residents wanting to speak on the budget will get their chance at the next regularly scheduled meeting, June 18 at 7 p.m. at the town hall annex. Commissioners are also expected to vote on the measure in order to put it into effect by the beginning of the next fiscal year, July 1.
Ray previously has told the board that this budget is nothing like has ever been done before, keeping expenses low while meeting the needs of town staff and department heads.
“This budget aggressively provides for an increase in quality services for all residences in the town; the purchase of equipment to maintain the roads and to clean and maintain existing infrastructure — sewer lines and drainage ditches,” Ray wrote in her budget message on the final draft document.
The budget totals $2.9 million, up $100,000 from last year.
Among the highlights:
•Reduces the tax rate from 70 cents per $100 valuation to 68 cents.
•Decreases the water rate from $13.31 to $11.95 per 1,000 gallons, but increases the sewer rate to $12.54 from $10.92 per 1,000 gallons
•Increases sanitation rates to $17 per household from $16.50 due to a proposed fee increase from the county
•Purchases needed equipment, including a new police car, a new Ford pickup truck for the public works department, a pothole patching machine and a new sewer jetting machine
•Hires a new employee to maintain the cemeteries in lieu of contracting them out and doing other needed maintenance
•Allocates funding for salary merit increases following employee reviews in all departments. No raises are official, but in open session, there was discussion of increasing Ray’s salary by 9 percent, which won’t be done until after her review.
The most controversial aspects of the proposed budget are cutting funding to OneFranklinton and changing the town health insurance policy. The town will switch to United Healthcare and no longer will fully fund commissioners’ health insurance, but rather offer a stipend in the amount spent on individual town staff.
A full copy of the proposed budget is available at town hall, 7 W. Mason St.