The Town of Norwood wanted to let residences and businesses along Highway 52 from Turner Street and South to Crawley and Price Street know that the Town of Norwood will be cleaning the sewer outfall lines and following up with Smoke testing on Friday July 13th. We anticipate this activity to be conducted within the hours of 7 am to 4 pm. Stanly County Emergency Services as well as the Police and Fire Departments have been advised. Smoke testing of these lines is not harmful to the public and is used to identify possible issues with waste and vent lines.
This past year has been another year of improvements, new events and additions to Norwood. We have accomplished many things this past year and we are now planning our budget and the needs of our town. As we discuss things we hope to accomplish in the next year, let’s first reflect on what we have achieved in the last 12 months. I have compiled a list from memory and by looking at the minutes from our meetings for the past year. These are the improvements, items purchased, and services we were able to accomplish in the 17/18 budget year.
We voted to close 350 ft of the alley behind the new fire dept in order to build a new street that will go straight across from Anson to Turner Street for easier accessibility for the large fire trucks coming back into the new station. We have just received the bids for the alley and will begin work soon on the reconstruction of this road. We were able to work in conjunction with the new fire dept to provide them with the adequate water and sewer hookup they need for the new fire station. The new station will add to the looks of our town, main street and the fire services that we continue to receive at a cost of $75,000 per year including fire and medical.
We voted to purchase and upfit all our sewer lift stations in Norwood to telemetry using cellular technology. This eliminates the need for an employee to ride around 365 days a year to read pump hour meters. This also allows the town to be notified immediately when a pump station loses power or has any problems so that this can be handled timely.
The town heard a proposal and entered into a contract with UMS to change out all the water meters in Norwood to cellular read meters. The Town has some meters that are well over 30 years old and we feel certain a great number of them are not accurate. We are treating more water each day than what we are charging for on a daily basis. These new meters will allow us to get a more accurate read of the water that is actually being used by the customer so that they can be charged accordingly.
The town finished the sewer line going down Nicks Road that was not a part of the Berryhill sewer project a few years back.
The town sold 140 North Main Street this past year in hopes that the new owners will be bringing a new business to town.
A new Norwood Logo was added to all of the towns vehicles and website for branding.
We were able to stucco and concrete 122/124 North Main street property that the town had purchased and demolished. The town started a weekly farmers market in that reclaimed space last August which ran until November and opened back this year in March. The farmers market has been very successful and brought more foot traffic and life to the uptown area. We have hosted a craft fair in the market space as well and have had a food vendor set up almost every week during the farmers market.
This past year we were able to acquire the old Suntrust Bank building, renovate and move our Norwood Town Hall to this new location. New and updated software and computers were purchased and installed in the new building. We rented the building for a few months and have now been able to purchase this property for $200,000 which is significantly less than the asking price since the property has been for sale.
The town was able to purchase one new police car this year and add one full time officer to our police dept. The police dept added a K9 (Ajax) to their staff at no cost to the town. Drug forfeiture money of about $14000 was used to pay for this dog and the training.
Norwood had its first Winter Wonderland sledding event this past winter. We had vendors there and the sledding was free for all of the public. This event well exceeded our expectations and was completely free to the town as the event was funded by donations of the local businesses. We would like to make this event a yearly event in the future.
Speaking of the Darrell Almond Park, the town was able to replace the pier over the pond as well as one of the bridges with composite decking, rails and caps this year. This has added to the looks as well as the safety of the park and we plan to make more improvements this next year starting with replacing the bridge on the back side of the track. We had the disc golf course evaluated and was told that this course was not safe or up to regulated play. We have since had the baskets at this disc golf course removed and are now planning a new course to be designed and installed on the park at Turner Street. We are looking at outdoor exercise stations that we might be able to use on the concrete pads around the walking trail at the darrell almond park so that these pads are not being wasted. We did have some issues with the pond at the park and now have a adequate overflow for the pond to drain under the bridge into the creek.
LED lights were added to the Volleyball courts on Turner Street to allow for night time play.
A kiosk was added to the Blue water Kayak Launch on hwy 52 South. This shows the boaters a clearer map of the blue way.
The town has spent almost $100,000 this year at the wastewater plant. We spent $80,000 in tree removal at the plant as well as having the road widened going down to the plant. Another $15,000 was spent in other physical improvements at the wastewater plant. We approved and are in the process of installing a new generator at the wastewater plant. Ours has not worked in some time and had to be started manually. The new installation will be wired to automatically come on in the case of a power failure. We had to repair damage to clarifiers at wastewater plant and have now received a study by Willis Engineering giving us a clearer indication of immediate needs and long term needs at the wastewater plant so that we can continue making repairs and improvements to this treatment plant.
This year we also continued investing in our water treatment plant. This plant is in a lot better shape than the wastewater treatment plant but we still have to maintain and continue to provide upgrades. We did allocate for the second year in a row $150,000 in physical improvements at the water treatment plant this year and will continue to make improvements. The public health and quality of our drinking water is something that our board will not compromise.
The town was able to supply better water lines to some residents in Norwood this past year. The board voted to replace these lines in phases as these citizens had near no pressure in their household water. Replacements of lines were completed on Dale and Richardson Roads. The remainder of Richardson and Dupree will be replaced this next year as budgeted.
Our fire dept did an outstanding job at their inspection this past year and the town’s insurance rating when from a 6 to a 4 in the city limits.
The current board passed the brunch bill allowing alcohol to be sold beginning at 10am on Sundays in Norwood.
The board reached out to the DOT to request the speed limit be changed to 35 mph from the bridge on 52 South passed New Finish to slow traffic down coming in and out of town.
The board named a new deputy clerk this year, Carmen Salmon. She has been a true asset to our office staff at the town hall.
After much delay from the audit due for 16/17 year, this audit was finally completed. We have now hired a new auditor and this firm has just finished the 17/18 audit which is being reviewed by the LGC and will soon be available to the public.
The town also adopted a proclamation this past year to become a sister city with Jouarre France where one of our own veterans from Norwood was killed in the line of duty.
The board contracted with Uwharrie Planners this past year to update and review all of our zoning ordinances. This was presented and was approved the board.
In closing, I am happy to report all of the progress that has been made in the last year in the town of Norwood. As we present this years budget, this board still has many needed improvements and projects in their sites and hope to accomplish even more this year than the last.
We appreciate all of our citizens and we want Norwood to continue to grow and prosper in order to provide a better community for all of us to live and raise our children. We look to improve the services we provide to our citizens and continue to update our town for the next generation.
Linda Campbell – Mayor Pro Tem
One of the Town of Norwood’s worst enemy to our sewer system is Grease.
Sure, we know that you just want it gone and often times the kitchen sink tends to be the most convenient,but don’t do it. Please see our little chart featuring the Grease Goblin. We have locked him up at the moment and provided a helpful list of Do’s and Don’ts.
The short answer is no. A portion of your Stanly County property taxes partially fund education. In North Carolina, those tax dollars are allocated by the Stanly County Commissioners. Municipalities do not have the statutory authority to provide for education as those powers are granted and delegated by the North Carolina General Assembly. In rare cases, a city school district may be the local education agency (LEA). Towns such as Norwood cannot use General Fund dollars to pay for any portion of education, school supplies, or athletics at any school inside or outside of their municipal corporate limits.
For a brief summary of the basics of Public School Finance, this document from the North Carolina Center for County Research will provide an overview as well as the corresponding NC General Statute.
The question of who funds public education often comes up this time of year as the NC Legislature enters its short session and County Commissions begin to hold budget workshops with the local education agency(LEA) that they fund. The chart above illustrates how public schools are funded and provides a brief overview of where the money comes from.
In North Carolina, funds for public education are provided primarily from the Federal government, the State of NC, and the County (or City if they govern a LEA). In the case of Stanly County, no municipality or town has jurisdiction or funding requirements over any school. The Stanly County Board of Education receives funding from the three sources above as well as donations by private individuals or foundations, etc.
In order to provide some additional information, Kara Millonzi from the UNC School of Government has some additional information in her blog County Responsibility for Public School Funding as well as links to the statutes that might be helpful for those who are not familiar with public school funding. Kara shares both the constitutional and statutory framework for public school funding in North Carolina.
On Monday night May 7th 2018, The Norwood Board of Commissioners heard a presentation by representatives of the NC Rural Water Association.
Terry Green and Marty Wilson presented their findings following an extensive review of the towns utility operations. The rate study was done at the request of Town Administrator, John Mullis.
Wilson remarked that a Proposed Rate Increase of 62 percent would be required in order for revenue to match expenses including debt service and depreciation. This would move your existing $16.44 rate to $26.63 ($10.19 on the base rate) or a 62% increase. Wilson advised council the town has not raised rates in several years. The recent Berry Hill Sewer project was approved in April 0f 2014 yet no provisions to pay for the additional debt requirement were made at that time. While you will have some debt dropping off from completed projects, the debt service for this project alone requires an annual payment of $163,000 for 20 years. Current State Bond Obligations. In current dollars, that equates to every utility customer paying $8/mo for 20 years to cover the state bond debt obligations for this one project alone. The current rate structure will not support this additional debt and leaves limited borrowing capacity to address other critical infrastructure projects that are greatly needed. This creates the need to pull from fund balance which should be a last resort. Ideally, rates are adjusted to accommodate for the additional debt load at the time the town encumbers itself for the project. In this case, a rate increase in 2014 and even beyond would have softened the need for larger rate increases now.
It is important to note, that as collection and distribution systems evolve, they too become more expensive to construct. As with every water and sewer project, while they typically serve a small percentage of the total users, the entire cost of the project is spread out among all of the rate payers. I want to be careful to not single out this one project but the additional debt service obligation created by this project is driving the immediacy for rate setting action.
Additionally, the town has two(2) critical projects in the works including the O’neal Alley Sewer Lift Station and the Waste Water Treatment Plant. While these projects are in the planning stages, the board should consider preparing for the impacts now. While no one wants to raise rates, You, the board have an obligation to set the rates at a level that will fund water and sewer operations, prepare for unexpected events, fund depreciation, and fund repair and replace projects. All of this, and most importantly, to provide for the public health and safety of your water and sewer customers.
I will warn you now, no matter the rate increase, the public will not be happy. The public expects the water to be there when they turn on the faucet and the waste to be gone when they flush. The process from the intake to the treatment plant and the pipes in the ground is not a concern of theirs. The public just expects it as a given. You and I know the massive responsibility that comes with operating a collections and distribution system yet the public really has limited knowledge of what all is involved to bring them the service and to maintain the infrastructure. Boards will be hesitant to raise rates and especially in an election year, but you have to consider all factors and what is in the best interest of your water and sewer customers. The easiest thing to do is to turn your head and ignore the problems but your savings account will only last so long. You have to set your rates to not only fund current operations but to also put back in a rainy day fund.
The cost of treating water is expensive and the cost of treating sewer is even more. Doing nothing will only impact your customers negatively in the future. One dollar of deferred maintenance today will translate to $4-$5 in the future, so it becomes pretty apparent that the issues you face today should be swiftly dealt with by not kicking the can down the road.
Wilson remarked that Norwood is not alone. Much of America’s infrastructure is Pre World War II as far as age. The pipes in the ground are now having significant and more frequent failure rates, which increases the cost year after year. In fact, Norwood had an above average hit to your Enterprise fund in the recent months during the cold cycle.
In closing, Wilson remarked, “I’m not here to set the rates for Norwood, that is up to the Commissioners”. I know that you will not be able to initiate a 62% rate increase at one time but you do need to work towards a long term plan to get there. I have conducted hundreds of these rate studies including Murphy and Manteo. I appreciate you allowing NC Rural Water in your Chambers tonight and to present our findings to you.
Following the presentation, the board adopted the following rate schedule.
July 1, 2019 – Base Rate moves from $18.91 per 1000 gallons to $21.75 an increase of $2.84 (or 9 cents per day) for inside customers. For sewer customers, the same rate will apply. So the combined increase for water and sewer will be $5.68 (or 19 cents per day).