The Chatham Town Council plans to make water and sewer system improvements a top priority in its fiscal 2023 budget, according to Finance Committee Chairman Irvin Perry.

“It is the number one priority,” Perry said. “Our infrastructure is very old, dates back many years and has not been updated. It is time now to take advantage of the situation and hope that we reduce any unnecessary water stoppages in the future.”

The town's proposed fiscal 2023 budget was discussed Monday at a Finance Committee meeting.

One example that was mentioned was around Memorial Day 2021, when there was a water line break in a swampy area just outside of Chatham and town leaders had a hard time finding it. As a result, about 2,500 Chatham and Dry Fork residents were without water.

In order for these improvements to be done, Perry told the finance committee that the town has funds available through grants, real estate taxes and licenses.

Water and sewer top priority for 2022-2023 budget

“Every dime of that is going to sewer and water; that is our top priority,” said Perry.

This comes after residents have repeatedly complained of brown water when turning on house faucets.

"The brown water is a result of a line break, water being turned off for awhile, flushing a hydrant or a repair to a line, and you get disruption in pressure and it causes stirring of what's in the pipe," said Town Manager Richard Cocke in an interview with the Star-Tribune.

The material could be a mixture of dirt and sediments, said Cocke.

In the evening meeting, the Town Council received an audit report from Harris Harvey Neal and Co. Perry also made a motion to make the assistant town manager position from temporary to permanent with the stipulation that if at any time in the future the position becomes vacant again, it must go to the council for approval to fill. It was passed with a 6-0 vote.

A consideration to finish improvements to Hill Crest Burial Park not to exceed $8,000 from the committee was also read by council member Janet Bishop. It passed with a 6-0 vote.

The council committees need to have their meetings and submit their budget requests by April 1. The next town council meeting is scheduled for April 11.