Councilman Wade Pepper questioned apparent budget deficits caused by overages in salaries in four of the towns departments and in other areas during a budget work session held last Thursday.
Pepper questioned figures presented to him on a report he received in July and similar report for September of this year.
Williamston Treasurer Michelle Starnes told Pepper that figures in the budgeted column of the report were not correct on the preliminary reports and should be ignored.
Pepper also raised questions concerning apparent overages in many of the budgeted categories.
Pepper said that projected monthly expenditures, which he based on monthly expenditures through September, will result in considerable overages in several budget categories.
According to Pepper, based on the 2002 budget, administration salaries will be over budget by $49,542, street department salaries will be over by $36,871, police salaries over by $67,491 and parks and recreation salaries will be over budget by $14,875.
Pepper also pointed out that administrative supplies are already over budget by $44,175.
Based on Peppers remarks, the parks and recreation department will be over budget by at least $7,786 on vehicles, $6,196 on repairs/maintenance, $11,616 on supplies, $622 on uniforms and utilities over by $5,958.
Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy defended the overages, saying they are the reflection of true expenditures of the town for the year.
We were trying to see exactly what expenditures each department has, Clardy said of the true budget he presented to Council last December. We had no real budget figures to go on.
The 2001 budget under which the Town operated under Clardys first year as mayor, was a budget presented by former Mayor Marion Middleton which was approved by Council in December of 2000.
Clardy also said that some of the expenditures pointed out by Pepper will not be recurring in the last months of the year.
Clardy said, Every receipt is available to the council or public.
We have tired to make this information available to the council.
We have receipts for every dime ever spent, Clardy said. That has not always been the case.
Clardy pointed out that the town implemented a recycling program and did not have to raise taxes.
The day will come, he said. The growth of the town will require necessary equipment.
That could include additional or replacement of infrastructure such as water lines and additional costs associated with trash pickup and additional police protection, according to Clardy.
Clardy said there have been numerous items to deal with including developing a policies and procedures manual and a budget with a breakdown of items, which were not clumped as they were before.
Clardy said a new staff had to deal with the situation created when former Clerk Donna Ellis was removed from her position. He said the Town also had new accounting software installed which the staff had to learn as well.
It will take 3-4 years to feel comfortable with the budget figures, Clardy said.
Clardy said that additional administrative positions were added at the recommendation of the auditors.
Clardy said that the Town has the financial resources necessary to pay the bills and keep the Town running.
He said the positions have been approved by Council and salaries in some cases are not the same as before.
We have had people retire who have been replaced and other cutbacks that provide additional funding for the items that are overbudget, Clardy said.
Each department that serves a facet of our town government has also received new employees to accommodate those departments needs and the growth of services provided to our residents, Clardy said.
Pepper said he expected more budget discussion at the work session and not just a wish list that was presented by department heads.
Pepper said that he just wanted the town to operate under sound management and did not want to see citizens have to pay additional taxes.
A District One school bus driver was injured Monday when a passenger in an oncoming vehicle threw an object at the windshield of the bus. Julie A. Boozer, 41, 301 Wren Rd. Piedmont, sustained several cuts and was treated at the scene for neck injuries. Two students who were still on the bus were uninjured. Boozer said the white pickup containing two young males was moving wrecklessly down Midway Road before the incident occurred. Moments later another driver in the area reported a similar incident with less damage involved. Investigating officers located a leaking D cell battery nearby which appeared to be the object used in the incident.
The Piedmont Public Service District Board of Commissioners met Oct. 21 at the Piedmont Fire Department.
The District is in the process of bidding services for a maintenance contract.
Chairman Marsha Rogers said the service maintenance contract is a three year contract which has been bid in the past effective from Jan 1. to Dec. 31.
The new contract will reflect a 3.5 year contract effective Jan. 1, 2003 through June 30, 2006.
The contract period change will better coincide with the District budget which operates on a fiscal year ending June 30, Rogers said.
Bid packages for the lawn maintenance are available at the fire department.
The bid package includes specifications for Piedmont Public Service District property including maintenance at Pack Memorial Park, Hotel Hill, the Piedmont Community Building and parking area and other areas.
It also includes cutting grass along Hwy. 86 on a per request basis.
Rogers said any interested company must have insurance and be available for a walk thru Nov. 1 at 12:30 p.m.
Sealed bids must be in by 12 noon, Nov. 5. Bids will be opened in open session Nov. 7.
The company awarded the bid will be notified by phone, Rogers said.
In other business, Administrator Butch Nichols told Commissioners that Western Carolina Sewer is asking the District to sign an agreement similar to the agreement under negotiation with the Environmental Protection Agency.
Nichols said the Western Carolina agreement will allow for fines, similar to the EPA agreement, for problems such as water infiltration.
District officials are taking a wait and see approach until the negotiation process has ended before signing the EPA agreement.
Nichols also said that District personnel will begin the process of inspecting sewer system manholes this Wednesday.
The inspection program will take approximately three to four months to complete, according to Nichols.
Rogers said a Palemtto Pride grant of $2,060 and an Anderson County PARD grant of $5,650 were among projects consultant Rusty Burns has recently helped secure.
He is still working on other grants to help with the sewer problems facing the District, Rogers said.
Rogers also said that the Pack Park facilities are being used and new benches will be in soon. She said she would like to see new tables for the Community Building and possibly some card tables and games added. She also said the Community Building is being used for basketball practices and a league and reunions.
Rogers mentioned a Fall Festival to be held at Rehoboth Baptist Church which will help raise monies for the Fire Departrtment needy family fund.