FROM STAFF REPORTS
The Statesville City Council on Monday voted to cut the city’s solid waste fee in half during the 2022-2023 fiscal year and eliminate the controversial fee in 2023-2024.
In March, council members directed city staff to develop plans for eliminating the fee over the next two, three or four years.
The council had a special meeting Monday discuss the proposals and give the staff direction so they can incorporate it into budget plans for the upcoming fiscal year.
The $120 solid waste fee, which is assessed to residential property owners in the city on their annual tax bill, generates about $1.1 million for city coffers.
Under the plan supported by all council members except C.O. Johnson, the city will assess a $60 fee in 2022-2023 and move $500,000 from the electric utilities fund balance to cover the lost revenue.
A proposal to move the fee from the annual tax bill to a fee on monthly utility bills did not receive council support. Councilwoman Amy Lawton argued that move would ding renters, whose rent was likely increased by landlords to cover the solid waste fee.
City Manager Ron Smith advised the council that utilizing funds from the electric utilities was an option for only two to three years. The city will have to pay for transformers to serve new subdivisions and hire additional linemen to meet the increased demand for service in the coming years.
Council members did not identify a secondary source of funds to offset the revenue stream long term, leaving it for the next council to decide.
Several council members, including David Jones, were adamant that a property tax increase was not part of the solution.
“We all want to do what’s best for taxpayers, for the citizens of Statesville,” Jones said.
The city manager advised council members that new construction in the city and increased consumer spending would generate an increase of at least $1 million in revenues in 2022-2023.
But Smith cautioned the council that city resources would be stretched in the coming fiscal year by implementing the next phase of the city’s pay plan, by providing cost of living increases for city employees, and by covering rising insurance and pension costs.