The Town of Cameron discussed raising water rates at its regular meeting Oct. 25.
A Fiscal Year 2022 Audit Presentation by Jyoti Singh and Mac McConnell revealed the town must raise water base rates $12 per month to offset its growing $84,700 deficit.
“The IRS makes you reclassify from a business to a hobby if you don’t profit three out of five years,” McConnell said about the water department.
The town has 203 water customers, and two operating wells working at threshold limits.
Mayor Pro Tempore Ginger Bauerband said the rates will not increase until January 2023 to give customers time to accept the increase.
“If y’all get me some figures together, and I’m reelected, I will see what I can do. God puts people together for a reason. [NC Rep.] Moore is my buddy, and his big thing is water,” NC Rep. John Sauls said about the board’s grant efforts to facilitate the water department.
In a report on grant-writing efforts, Bauerband said a water-related grant to solve a recurring flood issue on McNeil Street at Hood Chapel AME Zion Church where a culvert needs repairs also needs to show improvement for the grant to be awarded.
Sylvia Caddell said a culvert leads to her property, and it floods her property.
Bauerband said improving the culvert drainage direction away from Caddell’s property may meet the grant requirements for the $450,000 repair.
Concerning other grant efforts, Bauerband said past grants were denied because the town does not meet low-income requirements.
The average household income is $38,000.
During the audit presentation, McConnell said the town’s total net position increased by $73,045.
At the end of the fiscal year, the ending governmental fund balance was $683,635, an increase of $69,343 in comparison with the prior year.
The total revenue from property tax and sales tax was $285,385, resulting in a 98.65 percent collection rate.
The town’s total property valuation was 20,304,522, with a levy rate of .575.
Excluding vehicles, the total property tax collected was $101,908.
During new business, member David Seiberling said to facilitate growth, they needed to make the board act as the planning director.
The board said it wants to enlarge the board to meet charter requirements of five commissioners and a mayor.
Larger towns have professional planning directors to make zoning recommendations, to work as strategic problem solvers and to facilitate growth with innovative ideas.
“As the cost of goods and services rises, Cameron is going to need increased revenue,” Seiberling said. “There must be a forward-thinking plan to accommodate the future needs. While larger cities have professional planning directors, smaller municipalities do not and cannot.
“Forward thinking needs to be applied to the idea of creating a business district along old US 1 and to explore the possibilities of additional residential areas compatible with existing zoning and land use policies and that doesn’t interfere with or detract from the existing historic district.”
In other business, the next Historic Preservation Committee meeting is Nov. 1. Several members will be attending training in Raleigh Nov. 9.
The Antique Street Fair is on Nov. 4 and 5 and is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Feature photo: Town of Cameron board members welcome NC Rep. John Sauls at the regular meeting Oct. 25, 2022. Pictured from left to right are member Joey Frutchey, Town Clerk Wendy Butner, NC Rep. John Sauls, Mayor Pro Tempore Ginger Bauerband, and member David Seiberling.
~Article and photo by Sandhills Sentinel Journalist Stephanie M. Sellers. Contact her at [email protected].