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Heflin sworn in as Bethune councilman again

Posted: May 30, 2014 2:04 p.m.
Updated: June 2, 2014 5:00 a.m.

The town of Bethune welcomed a new councilman to the local government Thursday night, but he’s a familiar face. John Heflin served on council previously for eight years and was sworn in by Judge Cody Mitchell at a special council meeting Thursday. Heflin fills the council vacancy left by former Councilwoman Beverly Farmer’s resignation in March.

The open seat is on the ballot for the June 10 election, but Heflin was the only candidate to file, so council went ahead and welcomed him aboard. Farmer’s unfinished term runs through the end of 2015. Heflin said he expects good things from the council, as a new mayor and two new councilmen were elected last fall.

“This group has been off to a great start and been involved in their work thus far,” he said. “I look forward to helping in any way I can.”

The only other business during the special meeting was first reading of the town budget for fiscal year 2015, which begins July 1. Council approved the budget following a public hearing. Town Clerk Gayle Rogerson read an itemized list of Bethune’s revenue and projected expenses, saying revenue was expected to go up and many costs were expected to be lower during the next year. She said the town took in $140,338 during the current fiscal year and the projected revenue for FY 2015 is $148,420, a 5.7 percent increase.

Rogerson said the current year’s expenditures have been $166,125, while the estimated expenditures for the next year are $106,575, a 35.8 percent savings. The town’s intake of funds from water customers this year has been $55,245, but a 10 percent rate increase is set to start July 1 and is expected to help bring in $77,040, a 39 percent increase.

The town’s police fund is now separate from the rest of the budget. Rogerson reported revenue from law enforcement for the current year at $1,600, and projected revenue for the coming year will be $10,000, an increase of more than 500 percent. On the expense side, the police department has cost $43,888 this year and that figure is expected to go up to $51,759, a 17.9 percent jump largely due to the town’s recent purchase of a police car that is being paid for in monthly installments.

Bethune currently is without a police officer after the sudden resignation of Officer Glenn Davis in April. The town has advertised to hire a new officer, but can only budget the salary for a part-time person, which cuts down the field of interested applicants, said Mayor Charles McCoy.

“We interviewed one last week and we’ve got another one we’re talking to,” McCoy said. “Gayle has had several calls.”

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