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Board approves utility increase
Pembroke projects move forward with $50k budget shift
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Pembroke residents and businesses will pay $1 more on their monthly water and sewer bills beginning in February.
And in an unrelated budget amendment, the city will spend $50,000 from a cancelled streetscape project on building improvements and maintenance.
The Pembroke City Council unanimously approved both changes Tuesday at its regular November meeting.
The auditing firm Holland, Henry & Bromley recommended increasing water and sewer fees by $1 every two years, beginning with 2014, to help repay long-term debt used to expand Pembroke’s system. Tuesday’s council vote locks in only the 2014 increase.
“It’s estimated to bring in about $12,000 extra income that will be specifically used to pay down this loan,” said Pembroke City Clerk Betty Hill.
That’s the expected annual revenue from Pembroke’s roughly 1,000 water and sewer customers paying the $1 extra each month. The city could have applied the dollar to either the water or the sewer portion, or 50 cents on each, Hill said.
Councilman Johnnie Miller made a motion, seconded by Councilman Ernest Hamilton, to split the increase between the two fees. This makes the base rate $26.50 for the first 2,000 gallons of water and $30.75 for sewer beginning January.
The hike takes effect in January, but as Mayor Mary Warnell pointed out, bills for January service go out in February.
The water and sewer expansion also used a Community Development Block Grant, and Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax revenues are helping Pembroke repay the loans.
A repayment schedule from the city showed a balance of $1,045,000 in 2011, dropping to $599,986 this year after an infusion of SPLOST funds. Assuming a further $1 increase is enacted each even-numbered year after 2014, the debt is projected to be paid off in 2022.
Budget amendment
The council also approved a budget amendment that neither increases nor reduces planned spending. The amendment, on a motion from Councilman Tiffany Walraven seconded by Miller, shifts a total of $69,000 between funds in the current year’s budget.
Of this, $19,000 moves from line items for salary, health insurance and payroll tax for zoning to identical purposes for recreation. After an agreement with the county to share zoning services with Pembroke, the city does not need its own zoning official but has expanded its recreation director job, now filled by Mandy Toole, from summer-only to year-round.
The larger portion of the budget shift applies $50,000 that won’t be needed for street work to improvements to city buildings and fixtures. That amount had been the city’s planned contribution to a $250,000 streetscape project primarily funded with federal Transportation Enhancement grant dollars, said Pembroke City Projects Manager Ricky McCoy.

Read more in the Nov. 16 edition of the News.

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