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Hearing Set On Town Budget

FARMVILLE – The Town of Farmville will offer its proposed 2012-13 budget up for citizen comments during a 6:30 p.m. public hearing next Wednesday, June 13.

The budget contains no tax increases but does propose a $10 monthly sanitation fee, to be added to the water bill that will now be mailed to residents on a monthly basis, rather then every other month.

The real estate tax will remain 12 cents per $100 of assessed value and the personal property tax will retain its level of $1.50 per $100 of assessed value.

The sanitation fee, officials say, is meant to offset the costs of trash collection and other related services the Town, unlike many localities, has provided without a charge.

A total of $15,240,178 in budget revenue from all sources is anticipated for the fiscal year, with expenditures of $14,632,173, leaving a balance, regarded by the Town as a contingency for emergencies or future projects, of $608,000.

Town employees would receive a four percent raise.

The Town is also proposing $60,000 in the budget to pay for an executive director for Downtown Farmville's Virginia Main Street project that is focused on downtown revitalization.

Town officials have said that the public appears to be responding favorably to the proposed $10 per month sanitation fee. But not everyone.

In a letter responding to a town resident who had written him criticizing both the sanitation fee and the switch to monthly billing, Town Manager Gerald Spates explained the Town's position.

“The main reason for the monthly billing is cash flow and secondly we will be able to detect (water) leaks on bills in a shorter period of time, which will save money for the consumer,” Spates wrote in a May 22 letter included in Town Council's June meeting packet. “All utility companies do monthly bills such as telephone companies, cell phone service providers, internet providers and power companies.”

Regarding the services the Town provides without charging residents, Spates noted, “The Town provides sanitation service. We presently, and have for years, provided this service at no charge. We furnish a free rollout cart to residents and businesses. We provide curbside pick-up and dispose of the trash at the county landfill, at a cost of approximately $60,000 a year in tipping fees.

“In addition, we pick up leaves, brush and twice a year pick up anything a resident puts out to be picked up. The Town has a fulltime person, seven days a week that picks up trash on our streets and sidewalks,” he writes. “We have been able to furnish these services to our residents and businesses, at no charge, for years. We can no longer afford to do so. The proposed sanitation fee of $10 a month, which equates to $2.20 a week, will help offset the cost of providing these services.

“We get very little in real estate tax and (Town) Council feels that each service should in some way pay for itself,” the town manager explained.

During its June work session Wednesday, Town Council decided to continue next Wednesday's regular June meeting and reconvene on Monday, June 25, to adopt the budget.