News Column

Fremont residents face fee hike

May 22, 2014

By Rochelle Moore, The Wilson Daily Times, N.C.

May 22--FREMONT -- Fremont residents are likely to face a $1 increase in garbage fees following the Fremont Board of Aldermen's Tuesday decision to buy a new garbage truck.

The board voted to include the $1 increase in the fiscal 2014-15 budget that is set for a public hearing June 17 before the budget is adopted. The proposed budget will be available for public review at the Fremont Town Hall in early June, said Barbara Aycock, interim town administrator. The fee increase is expected to start after July 1.

The town's garbage truck, which was purchased five years ago, has had ongoing maintenance problems that have cost $83,000, Aycock said.

"We've spent $83,000 and we're getting ready to spend $3,000 for repairs on this truck," Aycock said.

A new truck is estimated to cost $180,000 and may be paid for with a U.S. Department of Agriculture$50,000 grant and $130,000 loan package. If the USDA funding is approved, a 15-year loan would be financed at a 2.5 percent interest rate and the town's annual payment would be $11,899. A $1 increase in the garbage fee for 616 customers would provide $7,392 in new revenue.

"If we raise the garbage rates by just $1 that $7,392 will go toward that $11,899, which will help pay for the garbage truck," Aycock said. "We don't make anything on garbage. I'm just looking at a way that we can help pay for it without overspending ourselves."

Rates for Fremont customers would increase from $14 to $15 a month and out-of-town customer rates would increase from $15 to $16 a month.

Alderwoman Annie Lewis was the only board member voting against the increase. She said that Fremont's rates are already causing residents to move out of town.

"Our citizens already complain about high rates," Lewis said. "You're going to have some more moving out of town."

Mayor Darron Flowers said that the town needs a reliable garbage truck to provide adequate service and to stop relying on other neighboring towns for help when the truck is broken down.

"I think we all agree with you that the rates are all too high but, fortunately or unfortunately, our backs are to the wall," Flowers said. "We're either going to provide the service or we're not going to provide it."

Aycock told the board that it was approved to receive $255,244 in N.C. Eastern Region money from Wayne County but denied its recent application for a $1.6 million Community Development Block Grant.

The Eastern Region funding is a portion of money Wayne County received from license tag fees that were collected in the 1990s. Legislation paved the way for counties to receive their share from the Eastern Region.

Town officials agreed to an interest-free loan payable within five years to Wayne County. The money will be used to pay off a water loan, two loans for the renovation of town hall and about $40,000 will go toward a town match for a water grant.

The town of Fremont was not approved for a $1.6 million Community Development Block Grant that would help pay for sewer improvements and lagoon repairs. Aycock asked decision-makers for another CDBG review, which was granted, and a decision is expected in July. -- 265-7818


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Source: Wilson Daily Times (NC)

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