HEBRON | The town's 2014 budget was introduced at Tuesday's council meeting estimating an additional $30,000 in income for the general fund levy, but that wasn't the biggest change from this year.
The Hebrong Town Council also approved an ordinance to remove the annual hydrant rental fee from the general fund and begin charging it as part of the water and sewer bill. The fee has been paid from the town's budget since the town established its own water utility, and it has grown to about $43,000 a year.
Clerk-Treasurer Terri Waywood said the annual fee is based on the number of hydrants and has grown as the town grew. Hebron is one of the last communities to pay it out of the general fund, and it was decided now is the time to change it.
Waywood said the council wants to use the money to give police officers a raise, and it needs money to cover increases in health and liability insurance as well as items such as its NIPSCO bill.
"We just had no wiggle room with the tax caps," she said.
Beginning with the new year, the town's 1,312 residential customers will pay $2.52 a month toward the hydrant maintenance costs, while fees for other water customers will range from $3.78 to $15.13 a month, depending on the size of their water service line.
Waywood said the fee is expected to raise the same amount needed to pay the hydrant fee and nothing more. The hydrant maintenance is part of the insurance rating, so customers could receive a savings on their home insurance to compensate for the new rate, and it will no longer be part of their property taxes.
The total proposed budget is $1.94 million. Waywood said that reflects an increase of about $50,000 in the motor vehicle highway funds the town will receive from the state gasoline tax as a result of a change by the state to give less of that money to the state police and put more into road maintenance.
One area of concern is the town's community center, which lost its two biggest renters this year. The seniors no longer use it, and the federal sequester caused by the budget dispute resulted in the town's Head Start program being eliminated. That was a loss of about $30,000 a year with no replacement in sight.
The Town Council is expected to approve the budget at its October meeting.