Council introduces next year's budget

More than $24 million included, public hearing April 8

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­­— The Sparta Town Council introduced its more than $24 million budget for 2014 at the March 11 meeting.

Although the council approved the budget, a public hearing for final passage is scheduled April 8.

The budget proposal for 2014 reflects an increase of 1.75 percent from last year’s actual expenditures, according to the municipal budget report made available at the meeting.

The council also voted for about a 5 percent increase in utility connection fees, according to Deputy Mayor Jerry Murphy.

This charge occurs when a business requires a new water and sewer hook-up, said Utility Director Phil Spaldi.

Spaldi said that
The rate for water charges and sewer assessment is staying the same this year, but connection fees are increasing, Spaldi said.

“We are losing money. We need more users,” Spaldi said.

The township is paying for a flow rate that is only partially being utilized by businesses, according to Spaldi.

“We could build a hotel and still have plenty of capacity,” he said.

Murphy suggested that it was time to force new businesses to connect to the sewer system rather than use other means, such as independent septic systems.

The released budget proposal passed by the council breaks down the appropriations into the following categories: 36 percent for salaries and wages, nine percent for deferred charges and statutory expenses, eight percent for municipal debt service, four percent for the municipal library, and four percent for capital improvements. Twenty-five percent is listed as other expenses.

In addition, 14 percent of the budget was reserved for uncollected taxes.

Sparta resident Jenny Derricks asked the council to consider revamping their method of charging residents for having a security system.

Currently, the township charges a $25 a year for having a security system to protect their home, Derricks said.

“Would the council consider the practice of only charging for a false alarm as other townships do?” Derricks said.

Mayor Molly Ann Whilesmith said that one of the councilmen is already working on putting together an ordinance to address the concern.

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