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Crawford eyes rate hikes as it develops budget

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The Crawford Town Council reviewed a draft of the town's 2019 budget during its regular meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 3.

In connection with reviewing the draft budget, the trustees discussed the need to raise water and sewer fees to offset growing expenses and to build reserves to a reasonable level.

By each fund, the town is anticipating $87,570 in revenue for its General Fund, with expenditures of $85,154; Water Fund revenue of $79,400 and expenditures of $75,823; and Sewer Fund revenue of $84,100 and expenditures of $93,823.

In the Conservation Trust Fund (Lottery), the town anticipates $1,800 revenue and $10,000 in expenses for park improvements. The town is hoping for help from the county on this project.

As the trustees talked about the General Fund, it was disclosed that there will be a surplus of revenue in 2018, estimated at some $17,000. Trustee Chris Johnson asked how a surplus is carried forward into the 2019 budget. During the discussion that followed, it was noted that a surplus is reflected in the cash balance of the town, but is not reflected in the next year's budget.

The real issue facing the trustees is the need to increase revenue to cover an expected shortfall in the Sewer Fund budget and to continue building a reserve in its Water Fund. The town is considering an increase of $1 in the monthly water rate. With a projected shortfall of nearly $10,000 in the Sewer Fund, the town is considering a more significant monthly hike, with $2.00 to $2.50 for the Capital Improvement Fee and $4.50 in the sewer fee. Combined, residents could see around $6 more in water and sewer fees.

This discussion will continue as the trustees work through the budget process. Mayor Wanda Gofforth said there would be a public hearing to discuss any changes in water and sewer fees, possibly at the November meeting.

The 2019 budget must be set and approved by Dec. 15. Gofforth said the hearing to approve the budget is scheduled for the Dec. 5 meeting.

In other business, the trustees approved a special events liquor license for the Festival of Trees at Crawford Town Hall in late November.

The trustees also heard an update from public works director Bruce Bair on locating a tower for TDS near the town's water tank. Bair said the original location was not workable, and the new location places it in front of the tower. He pointed out it may block the star which is lighted during the Christmas season. The tower is to provide improved services to TDS customers farther up the valley from Crawford.

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