Councilman Eric Carwell

Colony Councilman Eric Carwell, left, addresses residents as Mayor Curtis Johnson listens during a Dec. 2020 meeting.

COLONY — There are a lot of improvements the town of Colony would like to make to its infrastructure, but first, the council agreed Tuesday, they've got to get a handle on spending.

"We've got to come up with a plan based on what we've got going out versus what we've got coming in," said Councilman Eric Carwell, chair of the town's finance committee.

He said the town's annual expenditures are $121,025, and income is projected to be around $132,000 per year.

"There's a lot of things that we want to do, and that we need to do, but realistically, we don't have the money to do that," he said. "We have cash flow, and if we manage the cash flow right, we could probably do some things by robbing Peter to pay Paul but that's not ideal. That's not ideal in your personal budget, it's not ideal in your business budget."

Among the town's expenses are liability insurance and two loans the town has been making payments on for several years. One loan is for $12,000 and the other is for $7,000.

"If we're cautious and control spending, this administration can pay those loans off," said clerk Pat Ponder.

Recent unexplained hikes in the town's electricity bill for the education center and community center were also part of the discussion. Last month, the buildings' bills jumped dramatically. The education center's power bill went from $370 in November to $1,400 the following month. The community center's power bill last month was $1,100. Council members said they will look into what caused the increase.

They also discussed the clerk's work hours, a topic that has been controversial in past meetings. Carwell created a 30.5-hour work schedule for Ponder, which included hours working from home. The issue was tabled, however, after debate over if the position should be 20 hours and if remote work is necessary.

Ponder said she didn't have an issue with reducing her hours, but said the council would have to agree that she would not be available for any after-hours phone calls or emails.

Carwell said the town needs to evaluate how its spending money, but also look for opportunities to make more money. The majority of the town's income comes from sales tax, but the town also owns about 53 acres of land, ball fields, an education complex and community center with a gym. All the facilities need some measure of repair and maintenance.

"It's going to be important to look at what we're spending and where we can make some cuts, but we really need to figure out a way to bring revenue to this town," said Carwell.

The town has previously rented out the community center and discussed the possibility of renting out the ballfields in the future.

"I have a bunch of ideas, we're just waiting on the covid [to pass]," said Councilwoman Jasmine Cole, chair of the Parks and Recreation Committee.

In other business, the council had first readings of:

A resolution changing the town's workshop meetings from 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and holding regular meetings at 6 p.m.

A resolution that authorizes the mayor, clerk and town finance chairman to execute all warrants, drafts and checks drawn on the town's banking accounts

Committee assignments for the finance; police and fire; streets and drainage; parks and recreation; and sanitation and utilities committees.

Amy Henderson can be reached at 256-734-2131 Ext. 216.

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