Hello Fellow Citizens of Norwood,
The Town of Norwood’s fiscal year ends June 30th. This is a time to evaluate where we are financially as a town. It is also a time to implement the plan that guides us into the future.
I am pleased to share with you that all of our departments (water, sewer, police, administration, etc.,) ended within budget. I would like to thank Police Chief James Wilson, Public Works Director Mike Thompson and every employee for their assistance with this, and you as citizens for being good stewards of our community property. Norwoodians should and do take pride in their town and it shows.
While we have made strides in building our reserve funds and pricing our services to responsibly operate and maintain a town, there is a long way to go. The State of North Carolina required that we raise our water and sewer rates several years ago. This systematic price increase makes steps each year in getting closer to the break-even point where we as a town need to be.
Norwood had promised the state to implement these price increases as part of a low/no interest loan to repair our wastewater treatment plant which was in such a state of neglect that we had many sewer spills which can be a health hazard and has cost Norwood dearly in fines over the years.
Though it was not an easy decision, Norwood Town Council made the correct choice to do what was imperative for the Town of Norwood, to keep its promise to the state and to adjust its rates to cover the cost of providing high quality water and a safe, effective sewer system. As promised as a result of the water rate study around 2017, the water rate will increase the 15% that was in place several years ago, in order to cover costs for this necessity.
As an example of this increase, if your water bill is the minimum amount (which will be $25.01) your water bill will increase by only $3.26. The same amount that your sewer rate will increase. Put in perspective, if you are a minimum, base rate customer you receive one gallon of good, tested (our water has stricter quality standards than the bottled water that is priced scores higher in stores), treated, water delivered in your home, with the turn of a knob for 2.5 cents!
Another area where we had to increase our charge for a service is garbage removal. There has been no price adjustment in recent History from the town while our price to provide that service has been naturally rising.
Norwood is charged $10. 52 per residential cart per month and $12.93 per commercial cart to service the garbage removal. While this is a competitive market rate for garbage service, Norwood is only charging $4 per month for residential cart service and $6.25 for commercial cart service. Norwood also provides extensive additional services: limb, leaf, bulk items, and so on add up to an annual Sanitation Budget of $494,900 while our $4 per cart and $6.25 per cart for commercial per month only provide $55,000 in revenue to offset the cost.
Therefore, duty, fiscal responsibility, and common sense dictates the increase in the residential garbage cart fee to $11.00 per month and $14 per cart for residential cart service. Norwood Government budgets the same as all other municipalities in North Carolina, revenue neutral. What this means is that Norwood is not budgeting to make a profit, Norwood is budgeting to cover the costs of providing services, making payments, and meeting its obligations in order that we can continue to serve its citizens.
Norwood government painstakingly reduces every cost we can that leads to more value for you, the citizens. You can do your part to provide maximum value for our tax money. Together we can keep costs low. It takes all of us.
Some things you can do to help keep all of our town taxes, fees, and rates low are to bag your leaves in strong plastic bags. If items are permissible and fit in your garbage cart, place them there. It will reduce a costly trip the town would have to make to remove it should you place them by the road. You can also place bagged leaves in your garbage cart. Again, this reduces the number of costly trips the town would make to remove it.
In my eleven months here, we have made great strides to getting Norwood fiscally sound. We have reduced the amount we have to borrow from our modest cash reserves by 15% compared to last year. I ask you to take pride in the fact that we are growing fiscally stronger. I ask for your help in continuing this winning. We can do it together.
Scott Howard MBA, ICMA