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Ahoskie budget approved

AHOSKIE – By a unanimous vote, the Ahoskie Town Council approved its 2019-2020 budget ordinance, and neither taxes nor fees will rise in the next fiscal year.

“This is a good responsible budget for the town,” said Town Manager Kerry McDuffie in his budget message just prior to a public hearing to collect citizen input on the proposal. “(It) proposes to save a little, pay off a little extra debt and do a few things for the community. This is a good balance for everyone.”

There will be no change in the $0.81 per $100 of assessed value in the ad valorem tax rate. McDuffie said much of that had to do with the re-valuation Hertford County is currently undergoing.

“After they completed their tax assessment for (the next fiscal budget year) there was a decrease in the tax base from the previous year,” he continued. “By law, the town must provide what the tax rate would be to collect the same amount of taxes after a re-valuation; that meant the rate would’ve had to be increased to $0.833 per $100.”

All the town’s fees, including water, sewer, garbage, planning, zoning, and inspections, will remain the same.

Beginning April 13, 2019, Ahoskie town workers received a two percent cost of living adjustment, the first they had received since 2016. Meanwhile, the Town Council is awaiting the results of a salary study expected to be completed sometime by late summer or early fall.

McDuffie said the new budget includes a four percent increase in salary line items to fund the study, and if implemented around the expected October completion date, then it could allow for an average increase of 5.33 percent, if needed.

“The cost of health insurance will be increasing (to $881.21 per employee per month), but there will be no change in insurance because of so many changes made a year ago,” McDuffie said.

The Ahoskie Police Department (APD) will also increase by two patrol officers, bringing the number for the town to 53 full-time employees.

While the primary expenditures in the budget reflect the Council’s priorities: additional APD personnel, a SCADA system to improve the town’s sewer lift stations – with a fix to the Troy/Maple streets lift stations – and upgrades to Richard Street Park, McDuffie said there was not enough funding to start the process of construction on a new library. He did say he hoped this idea could be re-evaluated in the future.

The majority of the town’s revenue ($5.83 million) is expected to come from ad valorem taxes, totaling $2,402,035 million. Other major sources of revenue are expected to be Local Option Sales Tax ($1.23 million), Garbage Fees ($590,000), Transfers to the Water and Sewer Fund ($533,237)), and Motor Vehicle Taxes ($253,000).

As for budget expenditures totaling $5,832,867, the town’s Police Department will receive the most funding ($1.93 million) along with the Fire Department, Town Administration, and the Debt Service.

The Water and Sewer Enterprise Fund will have revenues of $4 million; others include USDA Rural Reserve Fund ($343,448); $63,000, Occupancy Tax; and $4,000 for Drug Enforcement.