MASON — Mason Town Council members agreed to proceed with plans to increase both water and sewer rates, and discussed increasing property taxes, when they held their most recent meeting.
Present were Mayor Donna Dennis, Recorder Harley Stewart, and council members Sharon Kearns, Steve Ohlinger, Sarah Stover, and Becky Pearson.
The council gave the mayor the go-ahead to begin checking into increases on both utility rates. Dennis said she had already been in contact with utility accountant Todd Swanson to complete a financial justification report, the first step necessary in the rate hikes.
Dennis said at the present time, there is approximately $83,000 in the water account and $66,000 in the sewer account, but more is being spent than brought in. It was also mentioned that each utility has $50,000 in renewal and replacement accounts. She added while the town is okay for now, if spending keeps exceeding income, there will be no surplus in five years. The mayor said she would like to be proactive.
Office worker Darlene Roach said the town was written up in its 2018 audit because sewer rates were not enough to cover expenses. She said the state wants the town to take in 112 percent of its expenses in revenue, but Mason is taking in slightly under 100 percent.
It was noted with the necessary legal advertising and public hearings, the rate increases could take up to a year.
A property tax increase was also discussed, with council members tabling the issue until the next meeting.
Recorder Stewart said she is working on next year’s budget, and at the present time, property taxes are 8.94 percent which generates $80,469 for the town budget. She said if the council raises the tax to 9.16 percent, it would bring in approximately $2,000 in additional income, and no public hearing would be needed. The tax could also be raised to 9.96 percent, bringing in a total of $89,649, but a public hearing would be required.
Council members discussed raising the rates by the smaller amount, in order to avoid the hearing. A decision will be made at the next meeting on March 19 at 6:30 p.m.
Dennis said the council will continue to discuss more ways to increase the town revenue.
(An account of additional agenda items from the council meeting will be published in a later edition.)
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Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.