PEMBROKE — Town employees will not get a 3 percent pay hike as previously discussed by the Town Council.
The council voted 2-1 on Tuesday not to include the cost-of-living increase proposed by Mayor Milton Hunt in the town’s 2012-2013 budget, which takes effect Sunday. Councilmen Ryan Sampson and Allen Dial voted against the increase, and Councilman Larry Brooks voted in favor of it. The council remains one person short following the death earlier this year of Robert Williamson.
The council also learned that Police Chief Frank Hernandez is retiring. The council normally meets the first Monday of a month, but the July meeting was held early because of July Fourth.
According to interim Town Manager Marie Moore, the cost of living increase for the town’s 44 employees would have cost $40,000 a year in the $5.28 million budget. According to Hunt, this will be the fourth year that employees have gone without a raise.
“We’ve got enough money in this year’s budget, with no questions, to do a cost-of-living raise,” Hunt said. “There’s no question about that. It’s there.”
Sampson said the town should consider a pay increase later in the year, and that it needs to be based on performance.
“I think we need to watch overall what we spend,” Sampson said. “I don’t think we’re ready for a 3 percent raise at this time. I don’t think we’re ready for that. … Our employees deserve it but I think we need to look at it a little more.”
The budget keeps the tax rate of 64 cents for every $100 of property, and there will be no increases in commercial or residential water and sewer fees.
Several people told a reporter after the meeting they were upset that they did not get to speak during the public comment session because the signup list had been lost.
Hunt was brief in the announcement of Hernandez’s retirement, and said that Saturday will be Hernandez’s last day. Hernandez was not at the meeting.
“Ms. Marie will be dealing with that issue,” Hunt said.
Moore said the town will first have to name an interim chief and then advertise the position. She estimated it’d take two to three months to fill the position.
According to an article in the May 2, 2006, edition of The Robesonian, Hernandez was promoted from lieutenant to chief in May 2006. He had been serving as interim chief of police since Travis Bryant resigned in December 2005.
In other action on Monday, the council:
— Approved re-zoning changes to two pieces of property on Third Street from residential to commercial, doing so at the request of Angela Revels and Maggie Mercer.
— Heard from Rhonda Locklear, supervisor of wastewater treatment plants, on the plans to clean up contamination from the site of the Kangaroo gas station on West Third Street, which was destroyed by an electrical fire in November.
— Adopted a resolution honoring Agnes Chavis by naming July 7 Agnes Chavis Day in Pembroke. Chavis is being honored for more than 40 years of teaching in the Public Schools of Robeson County.
— Authorized the mayor and town clerk to come up with names for short un-named streets for the Powell Bill program.
— Adopted a resolution obligating $150,000 for the Clean Water Management Trust Fund grant that will pay for water and sewer repairs on standby pumps and Seventh Street water lines. The grant will provide $600,000.
— Approved an application for public assembly by Charly Lowry for Dark Water Rising, which will be performing a concert series in the small town park during the month of September.
— Approved a game room and amusement device application by Ed Inners, of Inners Amusements, which will place several carnival rides behind the Burger King on Philadelphus Road July 3-8 for the Lumbee Homecoming.
— Approved a letter to the county stating that the town plans to enforce its own subdivision ordinance rather than allowing the county to enforce it.
— Approved a program that pays inmates from the Department of Correction $1 per hour to pick up trash on roadways in town.
— Approved a donation of $500 to aid the Dixie Youth Softball Association in taking 39 players to the state tournament in Eden, which will be held July 6-18. The association needs about $5,000 total.
— Heard from Catherine Brooks, who complained about a broken water main and an overflowing storm drain near her home.
— Scheduled a special meeting for 11 a.m. on July 10 to discuss personnel.