Rising Sun approves finance ordinance
Defines process, targets deadbeats
— The board of town commissioners passed an ordinance Tuesday night that establishes an official fiscal policy, which includes adding penalties to past due bills.
The basic thrust of the ordinance is to spell out the procedure the town already
uses to draft its budget and manage its finances and investments.
“The state does not obligate us, but the town should provide a playbook for investment policies,” said Calvin Bonenberger, town administrator.
He told the mayor and commissioners the ordinance will come into play for future boards, providing a set of rules to follow.
“We’ve talked about policies that were made in 2003 that were abandoned by 2005,” Bonenberger said at the Tuesday night town meeting. “We need a consistent path.”
The ordinance, which was introduced in February, will also allow the town to adjust certain fees as needed.
“Like any business, we need to recover some of our expenses,” Bonenberger said.
“We’ve always had impact fees,” he said of the cost charged to developers to cover water and sewer hookups and other services. “The fees were raised in 2009 ... but we never put that into an ordinance.”
The current impact fee is $19,600.
“We have a fee schedule, but we’ve never had an ordinance that clearly defined that we have a fee schedule and what’s in it,” he added.
Before the ordinance was passed, Bonenberger said that outside of cutting off water and sewer service, the town had no way to force someone to pay for a municipal infraction.
“We have residents right now that are very astute and know what is going on with their neighbors,” he said.
Referring to the recently passed property maintenance code, Bonenberger said the town has a whole set of guidelines to go to a property owner and force him or her to clean it up. Only fines can be levied, however, which can sit unpaid for years, with no penalty or interest accrued.
Looking at the big picture, the town administrator said the annual audit will point out that type of debt, which also gets the attention of any financing organization.
“Unpaid debt is affecting the town’s ability to borrow,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure we are not taken advantage of with this.”
Passage of Ordinance 2016-03 gives the town a hammer to swing at deadbeats.
“Until now there were no penalties for non-payment of fees,” he said. “This changes with the new ordinance.”