Ahoskie tax rate unchanged

Published 11:01 am Wednesday, June 13, 2012

AHOSKIE – Despite the added expense of constructing a $1.8 million fire station, town officials here were able to hold the line on the FY 2012-13 budget and maintain the current tax rate.

That new budget, which takes effect July 1, was approved Tuesday morning during the regularly scheduled meeting of the Ahoskie Town Council.

The financial plan, as announced by Town Manager Tony Hammond, keeps the tax rate at 76 cents (per $100 of valuation).

“Even with the construction of our new fire station we were able to maintain the current tax rate,” Hammond said.

Hammond added that the new budget is a bit higher than last year’s (6.59 percent more at $7.79 million in General Fund expenditures). It also includes $3.51 million in Enterprise Fund expenditures (a 5.7 percent increase over the current year’s budget).

The new estimated tax base (residential, corporate and personal property) is nearly $277 million. Hammond said that based on a collection rate of 97.7 percent, that valuation will generate $2.19 million in tax revenue and set aside enough money to make a payment on the new fire station.

“This new level of the tax base reflects a decrease in some values, some growth of new homes, new businesses, annexations and alterations, but does not reflect the newer development of the last six months or the expected growth of the next 12 months,” Hammond said.

Even though he made no mention of that future growth, the town’s corporate tax base is expected to increase based on the fact that Walgreens is coming to town (construction is well underway at the intersection of Memorial Drive and Catherine Creek Road); Super Wal Mart is still planning to open, perhaps as early as next year, on US 13 South; and Abrams Barbecue has announced their plans to establish a restaurant in Ahoskie.

As is typical over the past few years, Hammond said there is a need to appropriate money from the town’s fund balance to help create a balanced budget. That will again be the case this year, but not as much as in years past as Hammond said only $77,123 from that fund is needed. The current fiscal year’s budget was built using $290,823 from the fund balance.

Additionally, Hammond said $600,000 ($402,898 of that being for salaries and utility charges) needed to be moved from the Enterprise Fund to balance the budget, the same as last year.

“We done this over the last five years,” Hammond said, referencing the need of the added funds to balance the budget. “In each of those years we haven’t used those appropriations and they roll back into their respective funds.”

When asked if that would once again be the case by June 30 of this year, Hammond said he would have to wait until that date to answer.

The budget does reflect a possible cost of living increase (up to 3%) for town employees as well as minimal merit increases for their performance.

In addition to the fund balance transfers and tax revenues, the new budget is also fueled by $574,548 in garbage collection charges, $160,000 in motor vehicle taxes, $685,000 in local option sales tax and $195,000 in Utilities Franchise Tax.

The lion’s share of the revenue will fund the Fire Department ($2.48 million), Police Department ($2.21 million), Cultural & Recreational ($616,552), Administration ($554,919), Environmental ($459,615), Streets ($400,334) and Public Works ($326,235).

There are no increases to the rates of the town’s water and sewer customers.

Councilman Malcolm Copeland motioned to approve the new budget and fee schedule. Councilman O.S. “Buck” Suiter Jr. offered a second and the motion passed by a 4-0 vote (Councilman Winfred Hardy was absent from the meeting).

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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