WHITE LAKE — The Elizabethtown Town Council held its annual budget retreat at the White Lake Town Hall on Tuesday.
Items up for discussion in the morning session included an overview of the town's financial situation, given by Interim Finance Director Jay Leatherman, and an overview of the proposed capital improvement plan for the town for 2014-19. The board was also treated to a presentation by City of Lumberton Parks and Recreation Director Tim Taylor.
In the afternoon session, Norma Yanez of Waste Industries gave a presentation to the board. Waste Industries was awarded a five-year contract to provide sanitation services and leaf and limb services to the town beginning July 1, according to Town Manager Eddie Madden.
The contract generated a cost savings for the town of about $50,000 per year over the five-year duration, said Madden.
Yanez was joined by Waste Industries General Manager Ted Habets for the presentation.
“Eddie (Madden) was just talking about the quality of life. Curbside recycling improves the quality of life,” said Yanez.
She told the board there are 10 or 12 items that are currently banned from municipal landfills. Two of the items include aluminum cans, which have been banned for about 12 years, and plastic bottles, said Yanez.
“I can't think of a town your size that doesn't have curbside recycling,” said Yanez.
She explained that the days of having to separate items into separate, individual containers and the truck having to pick them up and place them in separate compartments on the truck are no more.
Yanez said the recyclable material can now be placed together in one cart and picked up by one truck wihtout separating and taken to the recycling plant. Yanez said once the truck arrives at the recycler, the load is eventually placed on a conveyor belt and separated.
The cost for the proposed service would be about $3.10 per month added to the customer's bill.
Mayor Sylvia Campbell reminded the board that there had been a recycling program in the past and people didn't separate items as required. She also expressed concerns about the cost.
“I think we need to find out the citizens' thoughts,” said Campbell.
“I support recycling,” said Town Council member Darrell Page. “There is a lot of interest in recycling. …. I think it's a need.”
“If you are going to do it, do it now,” said Town Councilman Dickie Glenn.
After further discussion, it was the consensus of the board to move forward with adding the recycling program.
“My only concern is people that won't use it,” said Campbell.
It was stressed that the recycling program is not voluntary.
“Everybody is paying for it,” said Madden.
“If they have to pay for it, I think they will use it,” said Town Councilman Rufus Lloyd.
It was also pointed out that the local high schools have a recycling program, which will help with recycling at home.
Another discussion regarded the issue of the town's Powell Bill schedule.
Public Works Director Pat DeVane told the board that he asked North Carolina Department of Transportation engineers Drew Cox and Matthew Edwards to attend Tuesday's meeting and offer their advice.
“I talked to Matt and asked him to ride the city streets with me,” said DeVane.
DeVane said the town currently has $553,000 of Powell Bill funds on hand. He said it takes about $100,000 to pave one mile of street. He told the board that, at the current allocation rates, the town could feasibly resurface about one mile of city streets annually.
DeVane said that Powell Bill funds can be used for new construction, street resurfacing, or crack patching. He told the board that they need to consider how they are going to prioritize street maintenance.
DeVane said one way they can prioritize is by placing the streets in town into categories such as neighborhood streets, high traffic corridors, and feeder streets. DeVane proposed focusing on the high traffic corridors first.
DeVane said both King and Swanzy streets are in immediate need of attention, as well as a few other streets.
He proposed that for the remainder of this fiscal year, the town staff focus on crack sealing city street in need of attention. DeVane told the board that a product called Mastic 1 can be used for crack sealing on streets in Greenwood and East Hills.
In fiscal year 2014-15, DeVane proposed paving King Street from Healthworks to Martin Luther King Jr. Drive at a cost of $70,727. For fiscal year 2015-16, paving and widening Swanzy Street between Peanut Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive at a cost of about $135,000.
DeVane also said there is an alternative the board can consider. He pointed out that Swanzy Street is becoming more of a truck route in town for people making deliveries. He said as a true truck route, the council could propose that NCDOT take back Swanzy Street and take over the maintenance of it. DeVane cited that the street has seen increased truck traffic and needs both widening as well as repaving.
DeVane said if NCDOT takes the street back, the town would lose about $2,800 annually in Powell Bill funds.
“From everything I have read, in all likelihood, Powell Bill funds will continue to decrease,” said DeVane.
He added that paving costs are still increasing and maintenance costs are also increasing.
DeVane said one implication is the need to supplement the Powell Bill funds with increased general fund dollars. He said it may mean the council needs to consider a tax increase to pay for more paving.
DeVane said that some streets that are currently in need of repairs are part of the sewer project and that it makes sense to wait and resurface them when the sewer project is completed.
DeVane said he is proposing spending $70,000 on King Street. He added that the town will receive $57,000 more in Powell Bill funds in the near future. He noted that the town receives about $114,000 annually for the Powell Bill.
After further discussion it was decided that the town will begin to start a rotation of spending about $100,000 to $150,000 to resurface streets each year.