SP Approves Budget, Begins Filling Reservoir
BY TED M. NATT JR.
The Southern Pines Town Council has unanimously approved a $14.9 million budget for the coming fiscal year that has no tax hike, no cut in services, and no employee layoffs.
But that doesn't mean it was easy for Town Manager Reagan Parsons and his staff to put the spending plan together.
"This was the most difficult budget to get to a balanced state in the 18 years I have presented budgets," Parsons said. "I'm just happy that the budget maintains all the services and continues to implement the Comprehensive Long- Range Plan."
The budget, which begins July 1, was difficult to put together due to continued uncertainty because of a slowly recovering economy.
"I commend the town manager and his staff for coming up with a budget that provides the same services for our citizens without raising taxes," Mayor David McNeill said at the council's monthly meeting last Tuesday. "Even though the budget is relatively flat, I still feel it moves the town forward."
The council also voted unanimously to keep the property tax rate the same for the seventh straight year. The town currently charges 35 cents per $100 valuation. The average property tax bill is about $711, which is based on an average assessed value of $203,000 for homes in Southern Pines.
In other business at Tuesday's meeting, Parsons said that the town had received its permit from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources to begin filling the recently completed 140-million-gallon reservoir.
"We fired it up this morning and the water started pouring out of the pipes," Parsons said Wednesday. "We're going to continue filling it as the opportunities present themselves."
Parsons noted that it is cheaper for the town to fill at night, and officials need to monitor Drowning Creek to ensure that filling the reservoir doesn't lower the water level too much.
"Long term, the reservoir provides a good supply of water in case of drought or other issues with the creek. Once it's full, we will have a good 30- to 60-day supply if we would get nothing out of the creek," he said.
Construction for the $6.3 million project began early last year.
"The reservoir was just a concept when I came here in December 2004," Parsons said. "Needless to say, we're excited to have it running."
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at (910) 693-2474 or tnatt@the pilot.com.
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