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Council sets special meeting for budget, approves CDBG plan

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Members of the Morganton City Council set a special meeting to vote on the proposed budget during Monday night’s meeting.

Council members will meet again June 20 at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers at Morganton City Hall to vote on the $82.1 million budget. A public hearing will be held before the council votes on the budget.

If approved, tax rates will hold at 57 cents per $100 of property value, with the special downtown tax rate holding at 14 cents per $100 of value.

Water and wastewater rates each would see a 4% rate increase after no increases for a couple of years, but electric rates would drop about 5.5%.

CoMPAS cable customers will not see a rate increase in this year’s budget, and residential phone customers will see a $3 per month rate drop. Anyone still using CoMPAS’ slowest internet speed of 10 mbps will have to upgrade to the 50 mbps plan, which is $49.95 per month, if the budget is approved.

Those rate changes all would go into effect Aug. 1.

The budget sets aside funds for multiple major projects, including more than $4 million for a sedimentation upgrade at the water treatment plant and $5.31 million for the Silver Creek pump station in the wastewater fund.

Other projects on tap for the next fiscal year are a new comprehensive plan for the city, a masterplan for CoMMA and the first phase of improvements at Bethel Park.

City Manager Sally Sandy, who sums up each year’s budget with a movie quote, this year opted for a quote from the 2006 film “Rocky Balboa.”

“He’s counseling his son in the movie, and he tells him, ‘It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!’” Sandy said. “That’s really how I view what we’ve done and where we are and how we’re looking toward the future. Along with that, we’ve gone from day-to-day COVID and mask wearing and shuttered venues and all kinds of things, and now we’re in supply chain problems and gas is out of the roof and diesel fuel is even hard to get sometimes and all kinds of things, material costs are hard.

“But we’ve still got more to do, and we still believe in the things that we’re doing. And what Morganton does best is they do that together.”

Proposed city budget holds tax rates, slight increase for water, wastewater rates

In other business at the meeting Monday night, council members approved an action plan for the city’s community development block grant program.

The city will receive $194,624, up $34,941 from last year’s amount, for the CDBG program. Lisa Helton, the program manager, said revenues and leftover funds bring the total available up to $352,610.

Council members approved putting $90,000 in for the small business loan program, $131,497 for public infrastructures and facilities improvement, $5,000 for acquisitions, $58,000 for clearance of spot, slum and blight areas, $29,193 for grants to nonprofits and $38,920 for administration.

Sandy said grants to nonprofits is limited to 15% of the total money the CDBG program has, and administration fees also are dictated by a certain percentage of funds.

Council members also approved:

  • A budget amendment to recognize an insurance reimbursement for the sanitation department.
  • A grant application for the Bethel Park stream restoration project.
  • Minutes from the May council meeting.
  • An amendment to the solid waste management ordinance.

Chrissy Murphy is a staff writer and can be reached at cmurphy@morganton.com or at 828-432-8941. Follow @cmurphyMNH on Twitter.

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