KOUTS | The new year is bringing some changes to the town but not in the amount of money the fire department will receive in its annual contract with the Town Council.
The council approved the contract Monday for $41,022, the same amount the fire department received in 2012. Fire Chief Don Sutter said he asked for the same 5 percent increase the council approved a year ago, but agreed to withdraw the request after town Clerk-Treasurer Laurie Tribble asked him to hold the line this year.
The department experienced almost a 33 percent increase in the number of emergency calls in 2012 compared with 2011 — 260 compared with 196 — and Sutter said the new year is keeping pace with last year. The town had several large fires in 2012, but 80 percent of the calls were for ambulance service.
"It will be tight," Sutter said of the budget. "There's always stuff to replace and repairs to make. It's an ongoing project to keep everything up, and fuel costs are up. There's more costs for everything when you get that many calls."
The town's salary ordinance was tabled for further discussion. As submitted it didn't provide any raises for employees, but Town Council President Tim Jones asked for further study, saying, "I wanted to take a look at what some of the police officers are getting paid because of the health insurance changing.
"They didn't get raises last year," Jones said. "Whether we give them raises is another story, but I want to talk about it. When one officer is getting awards from the county (for drunk driving arrests), we should take a look at it."
For the first time in 43 years, the town is looking for a new building inspector. Howard Wandrey retired at the end of 2012 but agreed to stay on to help with the transition. The council will meet Feb. 4 to discuss the job description before deciding whether to interview the candidates. Two applications were received, one from Councilman Orville Jefferson.
Another change will be in the starting time of the monthly council meetings, which will move up from 7 p.m. on the third Monday of the month to 6:30 p.m. beginning in February.