Sawmills Town Council: No tax increases, more sewer

Jan. 08, 2014 @ 06:04 AM

The Sawmills Town Council hopes to keep the town functioning without a tax increase in 2014-15 – and in subsequent years as well.

Town council members identified that as a top priority Tuesday at a strategic planning session moderated by two planning directors from the Western Piedmont Council of Governments. The town has not increased taxes in three years.

Other top priorities identified by the council on Tuesday included the continued pursuit of grants to expand sewer service within the town and increased efforts to attract new businesses to Sawmills.

While most town residents are served by the town’s water lines, only about a third have sewer. Failing septic systems are a concern throughout the town, which was awarded a $750,000 grant this summer to expand service in the Duff Drive area.

The other high-priority item discussed on Tuesday: How to lure more businesses into the town limits. The main tactic discussed during the meeting was the development of a market study examining the town’s demographics, the number of surrounding schools, the amount of traffic passing through key areas and other data – information that could be distributed to interested business owners.    

Other priorities discussed on Tuesday included the potential construction of bathrooms at Veteran’s Park, an item that came up frequently during the 2013-14 budget season.

Council members also discussed the possibility of a leadership academy similar to the City of Lenoir’s Lenoir 101, a program that would introduce Sawmills citizens to the inner workings of the town – and give the town council a pool of volunteers to draw from when vacancies arise on town boards.

The town council also discussed the addition of a town-sponsored Fourth of July fireworks event. Some members were in favor, saying the summer season needed a town-sponsored community event, but others said they’d be uncomfortable requiring town employees to work on Independence Day.

Sawmills’ budget negotiations will kick off in earnest Thursday, Jan. 23, at 6 p.m., at a “coffee with the council” event meant to solicit opinions from citizens. The council will hold its budget retreat Tuesday, Feb. 11, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission's offices adjacent to the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center.