Newton approves budget and cleans up downtown

Tuesday night the Newton City Council approved a fiscal budget for next year that will require customers to pay more for their electricity and garbage service.

A public hearing was held prior to the vote where only one citizen, Rev. Paul FitzPatrick, spoke. FitzPatrick asked the city council to reconsider cutting a half of a percent from the city employee cost of living raise. He told the council the reduction was a mistake because employees are a vital part of the city and was worried that Newton could loose valuable talent to other cities.

The council adopted the $38 million 2013-14 budget with a vote of 5-1 with Council member Robert Abernethy being the lone opposing vote. Abernethy said he could not vote on a budget that funded “Quality of Life” improvement projects while there are streets that are falling apart and many stretches of unsafe sidewalks. Abernethy also took issue with the cost of living adjustment and said that he would have supported raises based on merit and performance.

To read more of this story, pick up the Thursday edition of Catawba County's community newspaper, The Observer News Enterprise, at newsstands throughout the county.