A five percent increase in water rates from the City of Rocky Mount will be passed on to Nashville residents. Town Manager Preston Mitchell told Nashville’s Board during a budget work session last week that the increase was something the town expected and was driven by the increase of gas and electric rates.
“We were expecting this,” Mitchell said. “It relates to an operational increase.”
The increase means a 25 cents jump in Nashville’s in-town water rate. The new rate will be $5.52 per 1,000 gallons, up from the current rate of $5.26. Each additional gallon will be $4.02, up from $3.83.
Water rates for out-of-town residents will increase by 53 cents, to $11.04 for the first 1,000 gallons. Each additional gallon will be $8.04, up from the current rate of $7.66.
Sprinkler rates also increased from $5.26 to $5.52 for the first 1,000 gallons and $4.02 for each additional gallon.
Nashville’s recycling fee will also see an increase, Mitchell said, due to the town’s contract with Waste Industries.
The new rate will be $3.69, up from the current rate of $3.62.
The bulk water fee will also increase from $5.40 per 1,000 gallons to $5.67 per 1,000 gallons.
Sewer rates will remain the same.
The rate increases were something the town did not have information on when the budget was first presented to council members earlier this month.
Council members also discussed an increase in privilege license fees for internet sweepstakes. Currently, the fees are $2,500 per business plus $500 per machine. The proposed increase is the per machine fee, which will increase to $1,000 per machine.
Currently, a court ruling made internet sweepstakes illegal but many of the sweepstakes have changed the software on the machines so that it doesn’t violate state law.
Some law enforcement agencies in North Carolina are enforcing the ban against the sweepstakes cafes but others, such as in Nashville, haven’t taken any action against the businesses. Mitchell told council members at the budget work session that Nashville’s Police Department has other cases that are ranked higher than shutting down the sweepstakes cafe in town.
“It takes a whole lot of front work,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell also told council members that the town is watching a lawsuit against the City of Lenoir, who was sued after shutting down the businesses, even after they updated their software. Mitchell said he feels like Lenoir will be the example for how the sweepstakes cafes issue plays out.
“I think nobody knows what to do and Lenoir is just the one that’s going to be the example,” he said. “I feel bad for the City of Lenoir but I’m glad it’s not the Town of Nashville.”
Mitchell went on to say that he had talked to Nashville Police Chief Tom Bashore and was told there weren’t any complaints on the internet sweepstakes in town, not even a noise complaint.
Mayor Donald Street said if the sweepstakes were forced to shut down in Nashville, it would take away and anticipated $54,000 from Nashville’s revenues.
Another privilege license fee council members agreed to increase was the fee for Beer “off premises.” Currently the fee is $5. The fee for Beer “on premises” is $15 and the fees for Wine is $10 “off premises” and $15 for “on premises.”
Councilman Larry Taylor suggested making the fees consistent and increased the beer “off premises” to $10 to be in line with the wine “off premises” fee.
Council members are planning to hold a public hearing on the budget on Wednesday, June 12.