New Grave, Tap Fee Increases Also Possible

Published 4:43 pm Thursday, May 2, 2013

FARMVILLE – Town Council is expected to formally vote next week to advertise a proposed 2013-14 fiscal year budget that includes a cigarette tax (see page one story), along with increased grave opening fees and higher water and sewer tap fees.

The $15.944 million budget would leave all other taxes and fees at their current rate.

The budget would include a $60,000 appropriation to Downtown Farmville, with the committee suggesting the organization explore additional funding opportunities.

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For Town of Farmville employees, rather than a three percent pay increase raises in pay would come via a bonus schedule based on years of services as a Town employee.

The budget also anticipates leaving $469,897 in revenue over expenses.

A public hearing on the budget would be held in conjunction with Town Council's June 12 meeting.

Town manager Gerald Spates addressed the three revenue stream boosts proposed for consideration by Town Council's budget committee during council's May work session on Wednesday.

“Several things we looked at, one was increasing the tap fee and we've recommended we increase the residential tap fees by $1,000 and commercial tap fees by $500,” Spates said-a $1,000 increase in both the water and sewer tap fees, or, hooking up to the Town's water and sewer system.

“So, if you're looking at a residential tap, you'd pay $6,000 for water and sewer and the new fee we're recommending is go to $8,000,” he said.

When asked by council member Tommy Pairet how the fees compare to those in surrounding areas, Spates replied, “we're way lower than most of them.”

Mayor Sydnor C. Newman, Jr., asked about any potential impact on the construction business.

“No,” Spates said, the proposed fees should not bother such businesses. “If you look at building a house, a well and a septic tank probably cost you a whole lot more than $8,000.”

Moving to the proposed new grave opening fees, Spates said the recommendation was to have them coincide with local commercial cemetery fees.

“Right now we're charging $400 during week” to dig a new grave at Westview Cemetery “and it would go to $550,” he said, giving one of several examples.

The cost for cremation urns and infant graves, Spates continued, would also increase if Town Council agrees to accept the budget committee's recommendation for the advertised budget proposal.

“The committee's recommending that we increase our fees to coincide with Trinity” Memorial Gardens, Spates said.

The Town's major sources of revenue are the meals tax, projected to bring in $2.2 million next year, and the business license tax, anticipated to produce $1.3 million. Those are the top two, with $600,000 in real estate tax revenue, $340,000 in sanitation fees and $215,000 in personal property tax revenue forecast in the proposed budget.

The budget committee is chaired by Dr. Edward I. Gordon, with members Donald L. Hunter and David E. Whitus.