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Heath Springs adopts budget

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Mayor chooses not to attend Tuesday’s Town Council meeting

By Jesef Williams

HEATH SPRINGS – Even with its mayor absent, Heath Springs Town Council is moving along with the town’s business.

Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday, June 18, to adopt its $596,175 budget for 2013-14, which includes an increase in water and sewer rates.

The vote was 3-0. 

Mayor Ann Taylor and Councilwoman Ida Drakeford were not at the meeting.

The minimum monthly costs for the town’s water and sewer customers will each go from $20 to $22 (for the first 3,000 gallons used). After that, it will cost $5 (and no longer $4) for each additional 1,000 gallons used.

Heath Springs Administrator Tony Starnes projects those changes to generate an additional $13,000 for the town. About $9,000 of that will be from water fees.

Those revenues are part of the water and sewer fund, which is one of two town funds. The general fund is the other.

The town doesn’t collect property taxes, meaning that its revenue comes from other sources such as business license fees and sales tax receipts.

“It’s pretty cut and dry,” Councilman Mark Bridges said about the 2013-14 budget. “We’re really not doing a whole lot different.”

A public forum was held before Tuesday’s regular meeting to give residents a chance to ask questions and share concerns about the budget. Nobody spoke during that session.

The mayor’s absence   

Tuesday was the second time since May that Taylor has missed a regular monthly meeting.

She was absent for council’s May 21 meeting, which didn’t happen because there were not enough council members for a quorum.

With five elected town council positions, the minimum number of members required to be present before it can validly proceed with town business is three. 

The May 21 meeting was made up May 28. She and three other council members were present then, as Councilman Ted Sowell was again absent due to health reasons.

The May 21 meeting would have been the first for Starnes, who works part time as the town’s administrator. He was hired in April. In the past, Taylor has handled the town’s administrative duties.

Taylor told The Lancaster News on Wednesday her reason for not attending Tuesday’s meeting.

“I didn’t plan the agenda and had something else I needed to do,” said Taylor, who added that she did not let council members know she would be absent.

“I didn’t feel like I needed to participate in it,” she said.

Taylor said hiring an administrator “was not my idea to begin with,” though she voted in favor of hiring Starnes during council’s April meeting.

According to her, she’s not being informed beforehand of agenda items. 

When asked if she plans to skip future meetings, the mayor said “it depends on how things develop.”

“They don’t need me anymore,” she said.

However, Taylor said she still enjoys being Heath Springs' mayor – a post she’s held since 1990.

“I love it,” she said.

 

Contact reporter Jesef Williams at (803) 283-1152