Hammond suggests tax hike

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 15, 2006

AHOSKIE – If a proposed budget is approved for 2006-07, it will cost a bit more to live in the town of Ahoskie.

During their regular monthly meeting here Tuesday, members of the Ahoskie Town Council heard no one speak in favor or object to a proposed two-cent hike in the town’s tax rate.

While unable to attend Tuesday’s meeting due to an illness in his family, Ahoskie Town Manager Tony Hammond left a copy of his budget proposal to be read into the minutes of the meeting.

That proposal calls for the current tax rate of 70 cents (per $100 of property value) to be raised by two cents.

Hammond’s proposed budget for 2006-07 stands at $4.26 million in general fund expenditures, a 10.85 increase over the current fiscal year. It also includes a 26 percent increase in Enterprise Fund expenditures (to $1.88 million). Of that increase, $209,181 will be placed in a reserve fund as the town moves forward on its wastewater treatment plant expansion project.

He noted that even with the two-cent tax hike, the proposed budget would require a withdrawal of nearly $300,000 from the fund balance to make ends meet.

Hammond also proposed slight increases in water and sewer rates, not just to cover operating costs and the hiring of an additional lab technician, but to also begin setting aside money to help pay for the town’s proposed $15 million expansion to its wastewater treatment facility.

Meanwhile, the two-cent tax increase was suggested to help offset rising costs in professional services, utilities, healthcare for town employees and rising fuel costs.

The proposal does include a 2.5 percent cost of living increase for town employees. It also reflects merit raises (up to 5 percent) for town employees based upon their respective job performances over the past 12 months.

A copy of Hammond’s 2006-07 budget proposal is available for review at Town Hall.

Council members recessed Tuesday’s meeting until 10 a.m. on Thursday, June 29 at which time they will take the budget proposal under consideration and vote on the measure.