New budget includes pay raise, sewer and water rate increase
City employees can expect a raise and Thomasville citizens will see their water and sewer bill go up for a third year in a row if City Council approves a new budget proposal.
City Manager Kelly Craver submitted his budget for 2014-15 to council, which plans to hold a public hearing on June 2 before making it official. Craver said the budget will be available for public viewing as of May 20.
Included in the more than $36 million budget are a 2-percent cost of living increase for city employees, a 3.6 percent average rate increase for water and sewer and no change in property taxes.
“Keeping the tax rate the same is always our goal,” Craver said. “Certainly, we have lots and lots of capital needs. I think we did a good job of meeting those as best we could. I think this budget allows us to keep moving forward with our projects and keeping the tax rate the same.”
Property taxes remain at .56 cents per $100 valuation. Craver said he expects property tax valuation to increase one percent and sales revenue to remain flat. The budget calls for no increases in planning and zoning fees and a 3-percent cut for each city department. Craver eliminated an unfilled traffic engineering position that is being merged into the streets department and added a fire code inspector position. Approximately $80,000 is set aside for economic development and $150,000 will go into the general fund for capital equipment.
“It's a budget that will continue offering quality services from the city,” said Councilman Raleigh York. “All in all, it looks like this year it's going to be a good budget without any added tax increase on our citizens.”
Increasing the water and sewer rate continues a five-year rate study of the city's infrastructure needs. This marks the third consecutive year the rate has increased as Thomasville addresses several large scale projects to upgrade its wastewater treatment facilities.
“Obviously, with our water and sewer infrastructure issues and our five-year rate study, there will be another increase in the rates there,” York said. “We've been able to stay within those increases that the rate study said and at the same time put back some money and get the fund balance built up some. That's been a good thing.”
City employees for the second straight year receive a pay raise as council tries to reward the people who endured the Great Recession.
“They went without anything for four or five years, but over the last couple of budgets we've been able to increase their pay a little bit,” said York. “We're glad we're able to do that. We certainly appreciate the faithfulness of our employees during those years when we couldn't do that. It’s really meant a lot that they've been faithful to the city. We just want to do all we can for them.”
Winding Creek Golf Course, Craver said, experienced an 8-percent reduction in revenues due to a decrease in the number of rounds played; this was brought on by inclement weather.
Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or email@example.com.