Tville proposed budget: no tax increase

Water, sewer fees to increase 3.59 percent
May. 23, 2013 @ 07:37 PM

City Manager Kelly Craver released a 2013-14 budget proposal to city council May 20 that includes a raise in the water and sewer rate but no tax increases.

Craver presented a $38.1 million budget where the property tax rate remains at 56 cents per $100 valuation and the supplemental school tax holds at 18 cents. The city's water and sewer rate, however, will go up by 3.59 percent. The increase is part of the city's most recent water and rate study that identified more than $14 million worth of infrastructure projects needed over the next five years.

A public hearing is scheduled for June 3 at 7 W. Guilford St. and the budget currently is available for public inspection at the city clerk's office, 10 Salem St.

"We're very happy with the budget," Craver said. "The budget preparation went very smoothly. The scheduled 3.5 percent increase in the water and sewer rate is part of a five-year rate study."

According to the proposal, the new budgets projects a 2.8 percent increase in sales tax revenue and a 1.6 percent rise in property tax valuation, accounting for more than $14 million of the general fund. The new budget projects no increase in the utility franchise tax. Powell Bill distribution, money allocated from the state for road repairs, is expected to be $699,199, a decrease of 18 percent from 2008. The city's solid waste and disposal fee — $5.75 per month per household —  and planning and inspections fees will not change. Citizens also will continue paying $5 for all vehicles registered in Thomasville.

"Our revenue picture looks pretty steady," said Craver.

This year's budget represents a stark contrast to a few years ago when the city came under scrutiny from the state for how it ran its finances. Craver said the city has taken a lot of steps to streamline its budget process and the measures have resulted in a much more stable financial setting.

"They're starting to pay off," Craver said. "We've come a long way in the last six years, coming from no unreserved fund balance to just over 20 percent unreserved fund balance and about 30 percent total fund balance. We're in great graces with the local government commission."

Included in the budget is a 2-percent cost-of-living raise for city employees and no planned layoffs, furloughs or frozen positions. A $150,000 capital reserve fund for infrastructure projects will be established and the budget identified several expenditures including six police cars, a rear loading garbage truck, one fire department vehicle, a street department tractor, a inspections vehicle and a traffic department service truck. The new purchases total $835,826. 

Councilman Neal Grimes said the improving economy and the efforts put in by Craver and his staff have led to city’s improving finances.

“City Council aside, all the credit goes to the city manager and the staff for running the city within the budget given to them last year,” Councilman Neal Grimes said. “We can control expenses but we can’t control revenues. Our economy is improving enough to where we can realize that our revenues are not going to be impacted greatly this year. The forecast is where we can operate the city on a very similar budget this year.” 

Per round fees at the city-owned Winding Creek Golf Course will increase $1 per round under the new budget. Thomasville City Schools will receive $1,368,722 from funds generated through the supplemental school tax, parking fines and the previous year's tax collection.

 

Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or duke@tvilletimes.com.