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M’boro budget keeps same tax rate

MURFREESBORO – The property tax rate will remain the same for the upcoming fiscal year (FY).

On Tuesday, the Murfreesboro Town Council unanimously approved the 2008-2009 FY operating budget after a required public hearing was held for citizens’ comment.

Town Administrator Cathy Davison noted the property tax will continue to be “revenue neutral” with the rate staying at 68 cents per $100 of value. The rate is based on the municipal valuation of $83,896,170.

Davison arrived at keeping the current tax rate by taking into consideration several factors, including the average growth of municipal value since the last revaluation, the new gross valuation figure for the community and the dollar amount of the previous year’s tax levy.

“Although I recommend a tax rate that is ‘revenue neutral’ it should be noted that a fund balance appropriation is not needed to balance the Proposed General Fund Budget for FY 2008-09,” Davison wrote in her budget message.

Davison further goes on to explain if adopted, this will leave $1,252,155 in the projected fund balance, or 67 percent of the proposed General Fund Budget. This figure falls in line with the town’s auditor recommendation not to allow the fund balance dip below 30 percent.

The town’s operating budget for 2008-09 is set at $1.89 million, which is down from the current year’s $1.9 million.

“The budget’s gross decrease of 9.7 percent has been successfully offset by reductions in department budgets and enhanced revenue projections,” Davison wrote in her budget message.

The enterprise fund has also decreased from $5.7 million to $1.1 million because of the nearing completion of the wastewater treatment plant.

Revenues for the E-911 Fund are expected to increase to $60,000. These can only be used for E-911 expenses.

Despite decreases in both the operating and enterprise budget, citizens will see increases for town services.

Citizens will see an increase in their sewer bill in order to accommodate the $4 million wastewater treatment plant upgrades.

While water rates will hold steady as they suffice enough for operations, maintenance and current debt service, the base fee for sewer will double for both in-town and out-of-town customers.

“The base fee will increase to $35 for in-town customers and to $70 for out-of-town customers with a variable rate increase per 1,000 gallons,” Davison wrote in the message.

Though the double in the sewer base fee may seem ominous to customers, the fee could have been raised to $57.09, which was recommended to the town by the North Carolina Rural Water Association (NCRWA).

“With the Sewer and Wastewater Treatment departments making an overall 18.8 percent reduction in their budget, the sewer rates do not need to increase to the $57.09 as recommended by the NCRWR,” Davison stated.

Davison applauded the efforts by those departments, which made those reductions to help incur some of the debt service.

As expected, solid waste fees will stay the same for residential customers ($17), while commercial customers will see a five percent increase on the current cost of $32 bringing the fee to $33.60. This increase will prevent residents having to subsidize commercial.

Other hikes include zoning fees, which will increase by $25 resulting in a $45 fee for a zoning permits and compliance letters. The cost for conditional uses and rezoning applications will also rise to $200 plus the cost of advertising, and with rezoning, the cost of a map revision.

The 2008-09 budget is effective July 1.