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Stanton approves budget, looks to increase water/sewer rates

Story by The Greenville Daily News
Jessica Dudenhofer-Staff Writer

STANTON – The Stanton City Commission voted Tuesday night to adopt the 2011-2012 budget drafted by new City Manager James R. Freed. The combined operating budget, which factors $1,556,797 of revenue and $1,539,263 in expenses, sets to place the city with a surplus of $17,533.

“This budget puts a rudder on a directionless ship by placing renewed focus on investing in the future of the city of Stanton” said Freed. “This budget includes a new Department of Public Works (DPW) building, a substantial investment into parks and recreations, and is balanced without raising taxes.”

These investments include about $55,000 for new playground equipment at D. Hale Brake Memorial Park, resealing the basketball court and improving drainage in the fields.

“As many people know, it’s constantly wet out there,” said John Kroneck, a member of the Stanton City Commission and Stanton Parks Committee. “There are some key areas where water has pooled, so they’re thinking about putting a trench through the area that is most wet. But that has yet to be determined.”

Kroneck said the basketball courts and tennis courts also need some attention to bring them back up to “playable standards.” The city also hopes to improve lighting around the park and to replace the playground equipment that has begun to crack with age.

“It’s just not safe to have kids play on it,” Kroneck said. “We’re looking to improve the quality of life for our children and our families.”

The new budget also appropriates $198,755 of the more than $1.1 million in the General Fund Balance to fund the new parks and DPW building. About $99,000 was allocated for the remaining 2010-2011 fiscal year to begin work on the new DPW building and to purchase new safety equipment and tools for the DPW.

The commission approved the design of the new DPW building at Tuesday evening’s meeting and Freed said he hoped to vote on a bidder at next month’s meeting.

“So hopefully we’ll have that done before fall,” he said.

The new budget also includes projected increases in water and sewer rates to account for the depreciation of the utility systems and the extensive work needed to be completed within the city. Freed said the city currently is conducting a rate study to determine what that increase should be.

“Our recent DEQ and engineering reports makes it very clear we must act now to restore the viability of our utility systems,” Freed said. “Our lift stations are failing, our pumps are in distress and our water and sewer mains need extensive revamping as well.”

He explained that the goal was to invest in the future, while not increasing the fixed operational costs of operations.

“New projects are one-time costs and will not increase the annual operating costs of government,” he said. “Over time, these projects and investments will actually reduce costs through reductions in utility and heating costs.”

A copy of the 2011-2012 operating budget can be found on the city’s website at