Farmville Library utilities $11K over budget – retail water rates proposed to go up by 14%

June 5, 2022

The fiscal year for the Town of Farmville, NC runs from July 1 to June 30. We have just entered the last month of FY 2021/22. When looking at the status of the budget, we understand that the salaries of full-time town employees fall neatly into 12 monthly amounts. Other budget items, like utilities, will vary depending on the time of year and weather. It is understandable that predicting utility bills, for example, is not an exact science. Also, in any municipality, unforeseen circumstances arise. This is precisely why it is advisable to have wise, thoughtful people in leadership who try their best to prepare for a rainy day.

Tomorrow evening at 5:30, the ToF Board of Commissioners will meet to adopt the FY 2022/23 budget. Some of the proposals include increasing Information Systems by 26.1%, Police by 14.6%, Fire by 68.8%, Powell Bill by 17.2% and Recreation by 47.1%. They would also raise all of our utility rates. The proposal is to raise retail water rates by 14%, retail sewer by 5%, retail electric by 5% and solid waste collection fees by 10%. These would be major increases. The proposal also includes adding one full-time position in Recreation plus a part-time position at the Farmville Public Library. Hopefully, the town manager and commissioners have considered carefully the audit from FY 2020/21 which revealed a $400K deficit in the General Fund after all transfers.

This $400K deficit did not magically disappear. Unfortunately, we do not get to start at zero each year. We understand this from our personal bank accounts and credit card balances. It would be nice if, in one month from today, we could look back and say that the Town of Farmville really tightened its financial belt in order to end the fiscal year without a deficit in our General Fund after all legal transfers.

In this eleventh month of the fiscal year, it will be crucial for the town manager to instruct each department to stay within its budget. If there have been unforeseen expenditures in one area, then another area might have to be cut. For example, $24K was allotted for the year of utilities for the library. As of May 31, 2022 the ToF has spent $35,429 on utilities. This is $11,429 over that which was budgeted and does not include this current month. Obviously, the town manager and commissioners should analyze these utility costs and budget appropriately for the upcoming fiscal year. It looks like $24K is way out of line with actual costs. Also in the library budget, no money was set aside for Capital Outlay-Equipment, yet $7K was spent. The Special Programs budget is almost $3K over what was allotted and Contracted Services went $8K over budget. These amounts can add up quickly. Just those four library line items account for more than $29K over what was budgeted. Farmville leadership should find $29K savings somewhere else in order to balance the overspending in these line items. Of course, the library is only one of many departments. Some departments might have to spend less than their budgets in order to balance for the rest of the Town.

Next month, the Town will have to pay its third of 15 annual payments for the construction loan for the new library. In July 2020 the ToF made its $480,33 loan payment and in July 2021 paid $470,533. These first two payments depleted all of the monies brought in from fundraisers, grants and donations. As of today, the ToF owes $5.2 M and must find this money somewhere. We will have to forego or delay some capital projects or improvements in order to pay off this loan by July 2034. With the upcoming construction of the much-needed new fire station , a top priority, we are in quite a financial bind. I am not sure how all of these bills will be paid, but undoubtedly it will take careful planning and many checks on spending.

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