No budget, yet

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 24, 2009

The city of Brundidge will continue to operate on the 2009 budget until the council approves the 2010 budget.

City council members voted to allow the city to operate under the current budget until they can reach a final budget.

“This means Britt (Thomas) doesn’t have to call a meeting for every invoice,” Brundidge Mayor Jimmy Ramage said.

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The budget is on hold until City Manager Britt Thomas can get city Engineer Max Mobley to give the council figures to see how a three-year phase in would work for sewer and water.

“Mr. Mobley will probably tell you that we are under an obligation with the sewer,” Thomas said. “But, water is a different matter.”

Ramage said the city was hoping to give more residents a break.

Thomas showed the council a water and sewer comparison, which included the current Brundidge rates, proposed rates and other cities near Brundidge.

The average sewer and water customer in Brundidge uses 5,300 gallons of water and 5,300 gallons of sewer.

Currently it costs $8.65 for a standard meter, $8.27 for water and $21.32 for sewer, per 5,300 gallons, for a total of $38.24.

With the proposed increase it would cost Brundidge residents $13.41 for a standard meter, $12.77 for water and $26.73 for sewer, for a total of $52.72. This total reflects 5,300 gallons of water and sewer.

If the city council chooses to implement these changes, Brundidge customers will pay more than any of the other cities Thomas put into the comparison.

For example, Abbeville currently pays $12.05 for a standard meter, $10.81 for the same amount of water and $17.80 for the same amount of sewer. The total for that is $40.66.

But, Abbeville is in the same situation as Brundidge and is currently considering increasing its rates.

The proposed Abbeville rates would be $13.50 for a meter, $13.73 for 5,300 gallons or water and $21.59 for the same amount of sewage, for a total of $48.82.

The city of Luverne charges $8 for a meter, $5.28 for the water, $14.03 for sewer for a total of $27.31.

Elba charges $10 for a meter, $11.07 for water and $17.88 for sewer for a total of $38.95, while Eufaula charges $8.94 for a meter, $10.44 for water and $20.13 for sewer for a total of $39.51.

By far the cheapest around that Thomas showed in the comparison was the city of Troy.

The city of Troy charges $6 for a meter, $2.88 for 5,300 gallons of water and $16.60 for 5,300 gallons of sewage, for a total of $25.48.

Still, the city council hasn’t made a decision about the utility rates, and until it does the budget won’t be ready to pass.

“Everything is driven by what decision you are going to make about electric, water and sewer,” Thomas said.

Thomas said the cash flow would help the city a lot.

“We are running on a bare bones budget,” Ramage said.

In other business, the council voted to approve a bid from the First National Bank of Brundidge for a $185,00- line of credit.

The current line of credit is at Troy Bank & Trust.

“We are going to pay off Troy Bank & Trust,” Thomas said.

First National Bank of Brundidge offered the best bid, which would include 3.5 percent interest and a $100 processing fee, Thomas said.

Thomas said it would be the end of next year before they would begin paying on the principal of this line of credit.

“This is simply to protect us on the accounts payable on the books,” Thomas said.

The council also declared an emergency-type situation, which would give city officials permission to seek a backhoe.

“It might be to our advantage to go ahead and purchase a backhoe,” Thomas said. “We may be able to finance for four years or lease.”

Thomas said the city couldn’t go without a backhoe.

“It’s one of the most important items in our arsenal,” Thomas said.

According to Thomas the city is currently paying about $2,500 a month to rent a backhoe.

“From a financial perspective we are spending $800 more (a month) than if we were to purchase one,” Thomas said.

“We could declare an emergency and go out and buy one, and negotiate a price,” Thomas said. “We can look around and find one. If you aren’t comfortable then we’ll have to bid it out.”

Brundidge Police Chief Moses Davenport briefed the city on the current K-9 program situation.

“I made contact with the Missouri chief, and we lost that,” Davenport said. “And we’re not doing any better with our program.”

Both Davenport and Ramage said they spoke with Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas, who said he didn’t have the staff to take on another K-9 unit.

“My suggestion is for us to list it on the chief associate Web site,” Davenport said.

Davenport said the city could like the dog with or without the car.

The council approved the dog as surplus and decided to list it on the government Web site with the car going at a fair market price.

“In the meantime, we are still taking care of the dog,” Davenport said. “The animal will locate drugs.”