by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi
WHITE STONE—To match a projected $12,010 decrease in revenue in fiscal year 2018, the White Stone Town Council chose to chop expenditures.
Although the budget committee chose to increase money allotted for public safety, central administration and building projects, the overall expenses were decreased, reported town manager Patrick Frere at last Thursday’s meeting.
Some $1,829 was cut from the capital improvement fund and a $17,676 mortgage payback, which has been part of the town’s reserve fund, has been eliminated for the upcoming year.
“The committee thought it would be good to put the money into the sewage project and suspend paying back the mortgage until the sewage project is paid off,” said Frere.
The town chose to pay off the mortgage several years ago from its reserve fund and has been gradually putting that money back.
White Stone is looking at an overall budget of $161,730 for 2018, down some $12,000 from last year’s $173,740 budget.
Frere told council in April he chose to be conservative with revenue generated by the town’s cigarette tax and decreased that anticipated amount by $4,000.
There were, however, a few line item increases in expenditures, including an additional $2,475 for the town manager salary, mostly resulting from extra hours related to the town’s ongoing renovation projects. Another $1,250 was added for the town’s sewage project and $1,250 for additional related services.
The public safety budget increased by only $825 with $375 being added for vehicle maintenance and increased insurance and $325 more for clothing, equipment and training.
Mayor Randy Reeves advised council that with the town’s sewer, housing rehabilitation and commercial renovation projects, “this budget is going to get bigger and bigger as we go along.”
The town’s housing rehab project is moving along, according to Frere, with construction under way at two of the homes, one starting “any day” and three more approved for bids.
“We actually have six houses in some type of active stage,” said Frere.
Three blighted structures are also slated for demolition and contract negotiations for a fourth is ongoing.
In a related matter, Frere said “plans look good and are coming along” for Phase I of the sewer project and the preliminary engineering report for Phase II has been approved by the Department of Agriculture.
“We are really close to being able to make an announcement about [Phase II] funding,” said Frere. “I’m optimistic we’ll have Phase II funding in hand shortly.”
During the council’s comments, Mayor Reeves said he wanted to clarify that the signs in White Stone which thank police and contain a “blue” flag were not purchased by the town or the White Stone Business Association. The signs were purchased by an individual and are on private properties throughout the town.