June 19, 2022
The Town of Farmville (TOF) received $759,137 in July 2021 and will receive approximately that same amount in July or August of 2022 from the American Rescue Plan, federal aid to help with the effects of COVID-19. This $1.5M has not yet been allocated. The guidelines at the bottom of this page* say that the money could be used to address negative economic impacts caused by the pandemic, including economic harm to workers and households. Could some of this $1.5M be used INSTEAD of raising Farmville water rates by 14%, solid waste collection by 10%, sewer by 5% and electric by 5%? Not all of these increases are necessarily warranted. We understand that many costs have gone up, but not by these percentages. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) that will be passed on to the TOF by GFL Environmental on July 1, 2022 will be 8.5%. Farmville has a contract for solid waste collection from GFL, so the town does not have to maintain those trucks, keep up disposal infrastructure or employ those who pick up our trash and recycling. If 100% of each household, business and industry solid waste bill from the town goes to GFL, it would make perfect sense for the TOF to pass along all of that 8.5% increase to us. It does not make sense for them to increase our solid waste bill by 10%. If Farmville already was charging us more than necessary to cover the cost they paid to GFL, they could have raised our solid waste collection rate by less than 8.5%.
If you would like to make your voice heard about these rate increases, please email or call our town commissioners by Monday, June 27. Alma Hobbs 703-919-1224, David Shackleford 252-753-3587, Brenda Elks firstname.lastname@example.org , Jamin Dixon email@example.com, Bert Smith on Contentnea St. – contact information not published. They could amend the new budget more easily BEFORE July 1. Also, you could help by attending the meeting of the Board of Commissioners on Monday, June 27 at 5:30 PM on the second floor of Town Hall. You may sign in by 5:15 near the courthouse entrance if you would like to make a citizen’s presentation. You have three minutes to speak. If the commissioners hear from a lot of us by phone and email before the June 27th board meeting as well as at the meeting, we have a better chance of getting them to amend the rate increases scheduled to begin on July 1, 2022.
Remember that many nearby towns and cities already gave their residents some relief while dealing with the financial hurt from COVID-19. The Town of Farmville did not lower its electric rates or property tax rate at any point during the pandemic, and actually continued to increase water rates. Farmville’s town manager was quoted in a September 2020 newspaper, in response to the effects of COVID-19, as saying, “the town is in excellent financial condition with growing reserves and resources to adequately fund necessary services.” So why did the town not help us utility customers?
In January 2022 the Town Winterville reduced electric rates by 10% for three months for its residential customers. They also reduced residential electric rates by 10% for April and May 2020. The Town of Ayden gave its residential customers a 10% discount on the electric portion of their April and May 2020 bills as well as a 1% electric rate reduction for all customers starting May 13, 2020. Residential and business customers in the City of Washington, NC saw a 30% reduction of their electric rates for the month of April 2020.
In May 2020 Pitt County lowered its property tax rate to offset the increase that property owners saw due to revaluation. The Greenville Utilities Commission (GUC) had scheduled a 6.8% increase in the water rate for its retail residential customers to start July 2020, but graciously decided to halt the increase. GUC had no rate increases for the households they served for the fiscal year starting July 1, 2021. They will have a 3.1% increase in residential water rates starting July 1, 2022 but they are paying for construction for a water plant to increase capacity.
According to the UNC School of Government dashboard to compare water rates, linked below, today a Farmville household pays $28.18 more per month for water and sewer for 5,000 gallons than a Greenville household with GUC pays. That means $338 per year more for the Farmville household. That Farmville household pays $20.72 more per month than a similar Snow Hill household or $248.64 more per year. With the 14% water increase and 5% increase in sewer the Farmville commissioners just voted to put in place on July 1, 2022 and the 3.1% increase for water for Greenville households with GUC, the Farmville household will pay $36.09 more per month for water and sewer for 5,000 gallons than the Greenville household or $433 more per year.
Use this link to compare water and sewer rates across NC. https://dashboards.efc.sog.unc.edu/nc
TOF increased water rates by 6% in July 2020 and again by 6% in July 2021. There was no increase in water rates in July 2019. In July 2016 Farmville increased the water rate by 8% plus there were increases in July 2017 and July 2018. The Town of Farmville has not lowered its electric rates for residential customers at any point during COVID. Once or probably twice in the past ten years Farmville passed on part of the decrease in their cost of buying electricity to us customers. The Farmville electric rate has not increased in several years, perhaps ten. It is difficult to find documentation of this.
As of today, the Town of Farmville owes $5.2M for the construction of the new library, but has no money left from fundraisers, donations, or grants. (We used all of those funds for our first two of 15 annual payments on the construction loan.) Our commissioners voted to spend $340K to pave and light the parking area at the former train depot in exchange for 14 months rent for the temporary library, or approximately $24K per month “rent.”
We really need a new fire station. The BALLPARK estimate for this will be between $6M and $8M. How will we pay for this?
Our commissioners voted in June 2022 to create one additional full-time position in Recreation and one additional part-time position at the Library. With the current inflation and economic hardship our residents are facing, this is the time for needs and not wants. The TOF must tighten the financial belt and not create new salaried positions.
The Town of Farmville has not raised the rate for property taxes. Pitt County had a revaluation in 2020 which resulted in most property values increasing significantly. This meant we property owners had to pay a lot more in taxes to the TOF.
The Town of Farmville raised its food truck fee from $100 per year to $75 per day. The Pacific Legal Foundation is representing Mark Shirley/Ole Town Smokehouse, as he is suing the TOF for onerous regulation and what he says is the town “picking economic winners and losers.”
The Town of Farmville is saying that they need to raise 100% of our water bill by 14% because Greenville Utilities Commission raised 22% of our water bill by 7%. That math does not add up.
AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN
- Address COVID-19 Public Health: Support public health expenditures, by funding COVID-19 mitigation efforts, medical expenses, behavior healthcare, and certain public health and safety staff
- Address COVID-19 Economic Impact: Address negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency, including economic harms to workers, households, small businesses, impacted industries, and the public sector
- Replace Lost Revenue: Replace lost public sector revenue, using this funding to provide government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue experienced due to the pandemic
- Premium Pay: Provide premium pay for essential workers, offering additional support to those who have borne and will bear the greatest health risks because of their service in critical infrastructure sectors
- Infrastructure Investments: Invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure, making necessary investments to improve access to clean drinking water, support vital wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, and to expand access broadband internet.