Manila Council amends 2014 budget and discusses water/sewer rate increase

Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Manila Mayor Wayne Wagner and city council members met in special meeting on Tuesday amending the 2014 budget, approving the 2015 budget. (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

Manila City Council amended the 2014 budget to meet the actual income and expenditures for the year, approved the 2015 budget and discussed water/sewer rates at a special called meeting Tuesday, Feb. 24.

Mayor Wayne Wagner said budgets are estimations.

"When dealing with grants, we spend it first and then get all or a percentage of it back," Wagner said. "Sometimes it makes it look like we are in the hole on paper but in reality we are not overspending. Like the walking trail. The city had to pay for the work and then it received 80 percent of the cost back. We had to transfer same in the Airport fund when we were building the terminal building and then later we get it back."

Mayor Wagner said every penny is accounted for and audited.

"It is a paper trail and the trail is good," Wagner said.

Mayor Wagner said next year in July he plans to do a budget adjustment rather than doing it all once a year.

"Adjustments are good," he said. "That means we are getting grants and more revenue."

Mayor Wagner presented the proposed 2015 budget for review saying it is very close to last year's budget.

The council reviewed and unanimously adopted the 2015 budget.

The council then reviewed the water/sewer/trash financial report for several past years. The city has 1,389 meters.

"Rebecca (Rebecca Hartgrave, city bookkeeper) has been tansferring money from the general fund to the water fund when needed," Mayor Wagner said. "We are supposed to repay the transfers but we can't ever get ahead to transfer it back. We do get written up by the auditors for this. We are in good shape except for these departments. The water, sewer and trash are separate departments. Tipping fees at the landfill are going up."

"I realize we have to raise rates but I don't have a problem staying the lowest in the area," Councilman Dale Murphy said.

"Looking at this, if I am figuring it right, we have lost $27,602 in the water department," Councilman Jason Baltimore said.

"We need to figure how to meet the loss and get a little ahead for repairs and emergencies," Mayor Wagner said. "We need suggestions."

Presently water rates are $5 for the first 1,000 gallons and $1.25 for each additional 1,000 gallons. Sewer is $6 for the first 1,000 and $1.10 per 1,000 thereafter. Sewer is based on the water usuage and trash is set at $8 residental and $35 commercial.

It has been over 10 years since there has been a raise in rates.

Council members reviewed a breakdown of water usuage.

Options discussed included raising the minimum $5 to $7.50 for the first 1,000 gallons.

Council member Wendell Poteet said they may need to raise the hookup fees to meet the cost as well as raising the deposit rates which are presently $75.

"The staff has done a good job gathering information for us to review," Mayor Wagner said. "Henry (Henry Ford, utilites superintendent), Rebecca and I will work to come up with three different proposals at the next meeting."

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