Town of Franklin Board of Aldermen passed the proposed town budget for the fiscal year 2012-13 earlier this month, wherein board members resolved the contentious issue of establishing municipal water and sewer rates for Maconians tapped into the utility.
The June 7 meeting was a continuation from a budget workshop held just days before, where officials held little debate over most of the proposed $8.4 million budget laid out by Town Manager Sam Greenwood. The proposed flat budget included no increase on the valuation tax rate, and introduced a small raise in base pay for town employees.
Aldermen and Mayor Joe Collins could not however decide on setting a water and sewer rate schedule. The proposed budget levied for an average increase of six percent for water and 14 percent for sewer services to compensate for a shortfall in utility revenue.
The proposed increases were drafted in order to “build reserves” for the service and pay off debts incurred by infrastructure improvements in recent years. Aldermen opted for the continuation meeting to focus primarily on the utility rate issue, as the proposed increases seemed “quite steep,” according to Alderman Bob Scott.
In an effort to curtail the increases, Greenwood proposed to keep water rates at the current schedule for customers with threequarter inch water connections within city limits. Such residents make up the bulk of the utility service, approximately 2,400 people.
For the same customers, a seven cent increase would be introduced for sewer rates. Starting July 1, Greenwood also proposed that the rest of the rate schedule be established, as town residents will incur an eight cent sewer increase. He suggested that such a move would afford the town some utility revenues by fall of next year to cover ongoing utility maintenance.
The budget, along with its utility revision passed with a 4-1 vote, with Scott casting the dissenting vote.