From concerns over the town utility bill to questions about town services, a few residents spoke up during their Clayton Town Council meeting on Monday night.
One such topic was the town’s utility bills.
Howard Blackstone brought forth his concerns with the town’s utility bills, questioning council as to whether or not they can cut from somewhere else in the budget to relieve the pain of high utility bills.
“I see that a large portion of the revenues of income comes not from real estate but from the collection of electric sales, water sales and sewer sales. I didn’t total everything but that comes out to roughly $3.5 million,” Blackstone said, “What I was requesting is that we should find some places to cut because my past two electric bills I received were outrageous.”
After having looked at the budget, Blackstone suggested cutting from the police department because it’s 20 percent of the income and that way, the town can cut down the utility bills.
Blackstone also asked the council to be more open with the town when it comes to income revenues and suggested publishing the budget in the paper like the Town of Smyrna. His questions stemmed from his confusion over the budget.
“Something like that could be done so there’s a better understanding of where money comes from and where the money goes, that’s my suggestion,” Blackstone said.
Response from Council
Councilman Dave Letterman first responded to Blackstone in reference to his high utility bills. Letterman compared Blackstone’s house based on square footage with the other houses in the area as well as how many people live in the area. After comparing Blackstone’s July 2011 utilities to his July 2010 utilities, Letterman suggested it could be an electric meter malfunction.
“I don’t know if it’s an electric meter malfunction but we have a new piece of equipment that Jeff [Hurlock] received that he can use to test your meter to see if it’s not performing correctly,” Letterman said.
As for the town making money off of utilities, water and sewer sales, Letterman said the town has to make money off of those sales. The town has maintenance repairs and things of that nature so the town has to make money off of the sales, Letterman said.
Therefore, it’s not the town making an actual profit off of these sales; the town needs those sales to pay for blown transformers and fuses among other town services.
Moreover, the town has had to borrow from other accounts to pay for electric in the past. The town has cut back so much so that they no longer need to borrow from other accounts just to pay the electric.
Page 2 of 2 - Letterman also said cutting from the police department isn’t an option because past council’s have already cut so much. “They are at the bare bones minimal budget right now,” Letterman said, “and the stuff they do get is through grants. We got the dog through grants, Brian got those cars through grants.”
When it comes to the openness of the council, Letterman insisted the town will bend over backwards to provide information and answer questions.
“We’re more than happy to give you anything you want, openness is not an issue here I can assure you,” Letterman said, “Anything you want to know we’ll be more than happy to tell you.”
What do my taxes get me?
Huntington Mills resident Sterling Enos Sr. questioned the town as to what services he gets from paying taxes. The question stemmed from the town helping to clean up unkempt lots in the Huntington Mills housing development.
The town helped the residents clean up Huntington Mills because the developer is in bankruptcy even though the town wasn’t obligated to help.
Enos questioned what his taxes go to if the town isn’t obligated to help with the development.
“What services do I get from paying my taxes?”
Mayor Thomas Horn said taxes go to the police department, water, and other services such as dealing with a power outage.
Police Chief Brian Hill explained town taxes don’t go to the actual service such as water but towards maintaining those services.
“You’re taxes go towards the police department, street lights. Streetlights aren’t free. Snow plowing,” Town Foreman Jeff Hurlock said, “That’s where your town taxes go towards. The brush you complained about, taxes pay for that.”
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