The people face charges after break-in

The people face charges after break-in

FAIRMONT — Commissioners here voted Tuesday to give town employees bonuses in mid-January.

The board voted unanimously during a regular board meeting to give part-time employees a bonus of $175 and full-time employees $350.

“We ought to at least give them something,” Commissioner Terry Evans said before the vote.

Evans said employees of the Public Works and Fairmont Police departments have continued to work through COVID-19 and should be recognized for their efforts.

“I appreciate the board recognizing the employees of the town, not just the police department…,” Police Chief Jon Edwards said.

Interim Town Manager Ricky Harris praised the town’s department heads for the work they did during the pandemic.

“They really went above and beyond the call of duty for the citizens of the Town of Fairmont,” Harris said.

Also approved Tuesday was the Asset Management Plan for the town’s wastewater system.

The plan includes a list of priority projects, recommendations for future rate adjustments and mapping of the town’s sewer system, according to the resolution adopted. Grants awarded from the State Reserve Fund made the plan possible.

“A tremendous amount of your sewer gravity collection system is concrete pipe,” Jean Klein, Community Economic Services administrator with Lumber River Council of Governments, said during a 5 p.m. special meeting, one hour ahead of the regular meeting.

The concrete, which deteriorates over time and becomes sand, is “one major cause” for inflow and infiltration of the sewer system by water and debris, she said. To replace, rehabilitate and maintain infrastructure the town should consider “small incremental increases every year” to user fees, Klein said. Doing so will affect customers less.

“I strongly encourage you to use that strategy. Do a little bit every year,” she said.

During the 6 p.m. meeting, commissioners approved spending at least $17,015 to install a pump station at 710 Stafford St.

Also on Tuesday, commissioners heard an audit report from John Masters, of S. Preston Douglas and Associates, that revealed the town is doing well financially.

Masters commended former Town Manager Katrina Tatum for her efforts to help improve the town’s finances.

The town has a property tax collection rate of 93%, he said. The town’s structured debt continues to decrease, and its general fund balance has rebounded since 2014.

“Everyone is to be commended for doing such a fine job,” he said.

Town Attorney Jessica Scott gave updates on nuisance abatement properties.

She has spoken with the heir of a home on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, who said he would reimburse the town for cleaning up the property, Scott said.

Commissioners went into closed session after Mayor Charles Townsend cast a vote to break a 3-3 tie on a motion to petition an inspector to investigate property at 201 Pine St. to determine whether or not it is inhabitable.

The motion by Commissioner Charles Kemp garnered opposition from commissioners Felecia McLean-Kesler, Monte McCallum and Terry Evans. Mayor Pro Tem J.J. McCree and commissioners Heather Seibles and Kemp were in favor of the motion.

“Why are we singling out one piece of property?” Evans asked, referring to many other properties that need to be dealt with.

“I will appeal this decision with Robeson County Superior Court,” he said.

After emerging from closed session, commissioners voted to give Public Works Director Ronnie Seals a $3,000 per year salary increase effective Jan. 1.

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