Bladenboro approves $1.7 million budget for 2017-18

By: W. Curt Vincent -

BLADENBORO — Shortly after nobody spoke during a public hearing Monday concerning the town’s proposed fiscal-year 1017-18 budget, the Bladenboro Town Council voted unanimously to adopt the $1,702,180 spending plan.

The budget, which will go into effect on July 1, represents a 1.9-percent decrease over the current budget and does not carry a tax increase, thanks to the retirement of “a couple of debt service items,” according to Town Administrator John O’Daniel.

The budget, which will remain at 64 cents per $100 of valuation, does include a rate hike for garbage collection of 3.6 percent, which is based on the town’s contract with Waste Management. It also includes a rate hike of 4.1 percent on water and sewer usage.

O’Daniel said the next budget will also give town employees a 2-percent cost of living raise.

In other business on Monday, the board:

— Needed a tie-breaking vote from Mayor Rufus Duckworth to look into a change in town policy that would allow for utility bill adjustments. Proposed by Councilman Sarah Benson, the board deadlocked at 3-3 before Duckworth said the proposal is worth looking into.

— Approved an upgrade in lighting at Wateree Park. The board voted to put new LED lights that will be eight times brighter than current lighting in the areas of the concession stand and the playground in an effort to improve safety and sight lines.

— Voted to add an additional street light along Fifth Street in an area where vacant lots have created a dark section of road.

— Approved a subdivision plat applied for by Carroll Poultry for additional parking space.

— Approved a letter of support requested by Boost the ‘Boro that will allow the group to apply for a Tobacco Trust Fund grant in an effort to add space at the Bladenboro Farmer’s Market.

— Were informed by O’Daniel that the next meeting of the economic development group would be Thursday, June 22, at 7 p.m. and be held at the Community Building.

The next meeting of the Town Council will be Monday, July 10, at 7 p.m.

W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.

W. Curt Vincent