Enquirer Herald

Clover proposes park work, water and sewer rate increase

The town of Clover would hire a new recreation coordinator, continue work on New Centre Park and increase water and sewer rates under a proposed spending plan that begins July 1.

The Clover Town Council unanimously voted to give initial approval Monday to the $4.8 million general fund budget, plus $387,000 in capital projects and a $2.8 million enterprise fund for the town’s water and sewer service.

A second and final Town Council vote and a public hearing on the 2015-16 budget is planned at 5:30 p.m. June 22 at the Clover Community Center on Bethel Street.

A decision on the town’s tax rate has traditionally been separate from the budget vote, said Town Manager Allison Harvey. Harvey said the council is scheduled for an initial vote on the tax rate at its July 13 meeting, with the final vote on Aug. 10.

However, Harvey said the proposed spending plan is based on a 4-mill increase in the property tax rate. For an owner-occupied home, that would mean $16 more each year in property taxes for each $100,000 in assessed home value.

York County underwent property reassessment this year, and Clover’s rollback millage, the amount needed to maintain the same level of property tax revenue as last year, is 1.9 mills higher than last year. Harvey said the town staff has recommended adopting the rollback millage plus another 2.1 mills, for a total of 4 mills.

Harvey said the $38,000 budgeted for a recreation coordinator, the third such coordinator in the recreation department, is the only new position. That job is planned to be added in October.

She said town officials discussed the need to hire paid firefighters and decided to do further study. Clover has a fire chief with all-volunteer firefighters and town officials have discussed moving to a paid fire department.

“It’s expensive,” Harvey said. “We want to make sure when we get this started that we have a good plan in place.”

The proposed spending plan includes 3 percent salary increases for town employees, which includes a 2.1 percent cost of living increase and .9 percent for merit or salary adjustments. It also includes $34,000 for the lease purchase of a new garbage truck.

The capital budget includes $185,000 to begin work on phase two of the park. Harvey said that will include construction drawings, engineering and some of the work.

“We will do what we have money to fund,” Harvey said, adding that she expects some costs for the phase two work to extend into the 2016-17 budget year.

“What we hope to include in phase two will be the splash pad and bathrooms and a larger picnic facility, not just picnic tables but an actual facility, perhaps screened in, perhaps enclosed,” Harvey said. “We’d also like to being work on our amphitheater.”

Other capital projects in the budget includes $95,000 to be split between repairs at the former Armory building purchased by the town for a recreation center, and improvements to a downtown parking lot. The capital budget also includes renovations to the former Town Hall building and the old Clover Rescue Squad building, which the council discussed purchasing.

The town’s water and sewer budget also proposes a rate increase for the second consecutive year, based on the recommendations of a consultant hired by the town. Harvey said the study was needed because the town was losing money on its water and sewer services.

Rates vary based on usage and the size of the water connection. Under the proposed new rates, a typical home that uses 4,000 gallons of water would pay $2.34 more each month, or $28 more each year.

The council also approved a $1 monthly increase, from $15 to $16, in the town’s sanitation and landfill fee, on residents’ water and sewer bill. Harvey said the county plans a corresponding increase.

In other business, the council gave final approval to a measure that would increase installation fees for water and sewer lines. Harvey said that with some more difficult water and sewer connections, the town has not been recovering its costs.

The measure would increase the installation fee for sewer connections to actual cost for all meter sizes except the 4-inch meter, the most typical connection size. The installation fee for the 4-inch meter would increase from $600 to $800.

The measure would go into effect Sept. 1 so developers “will have ample notice,” according to a memo.

Jennifer Becknell •  803-329-4077