Ahoskie approves new budget

Published 4:54 pm Friday, June 23, 2023

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AHOSKIE – Despite seeing its annual operating budget exceed eight million dollars for the first time, town of Ahoskie taxpayers will not see an increase in their tax rate.

At a special called meeting here Tuesday morning, the Ahoskie Town Council voted unanimously to approve its FY 2023-24 budget ordinance, which totals $8,040.193. The ad valorem tax rate remains at 81 cents per $100 of value.

The current year (FY 2022-23) budget is $6,618,504.

Council members, at their regularly scheduled meeting on June 13, failed to reach a majority decision to pass the new budget. Councilman Charles Reynolds said he needed more time to study the numbers. He asked to table the measure, which was approved, prompting a special called meeting on Tuesday morning to readdress the budget.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Councilman David Hunt said he would like the town to seriously consider the gym security (installation of a metal detector) and bus stop bench requests made by the citizens at the June 13 budget public hearing.

“We can look and see if we can add those later down the road through a budget amendment,” Hunt said.

There was also a brief discussion about the possible use of grant funding to install two to three new surveillance cameras in different areas of Ahoskie.

Hunt also mentioned having town staff look into the possibility of a “robo call” system where Ahoskie citizens, after signing up, can receive a phone call, text message or email in the event of a water main break or delays in garbage collection.

“I don’t know what the cost is of such a system, but I think it’s at least worth looking in to,” Hunt stated. “It would help keep our citizens informed.”

On a motion from Hunt and a second from Reynolds, the FY 2023-24 budget ordinance and fee schedule was adopted without objection.

During the public hearing held at the June 13 meeting on the FY 23-24 budget, one citizen asked about the possibility of installing a metal detector at the town gym in an effort to heighten security for those using that facility. Another citizen inquired about the possibility of placing a bench at the bus stop on Main Street in order for passengers to have a place to sit while waiting for the arrival of the Greyhound bus.

While there are no proposed pricing changes to the FY 23-24 fee schedule, which is part of the new budget, there is a change in policy. Hunt noted a change in how late fees are assessed for late payments on water bills. The new policy states that water bills remain due on the same date (the 15th of the month), but the $65 late fee (assessed on the 16th of the month for those past due accounts) is changed. Instead, those past due accounts will be assessed a $20 late fee if the bill is paid between the 17th and 25th of the month. If the bill isn’t paid by the 25th of the month there is an added $45 late fee, which increases the total to $65.

“We know money is tight, especially for our senior citizens who live on a fixed income,” Hunt noted. “We are listening to our citizens to help them in any way that we can.”

Revenue for the town’s FY 2023-24 budget comes from many different sources, topped by ad valorem (property) taxes of $2,391,000 and local option state sales tax ($1,596,641).

Other main sources of revenue include federal grants ($1,819,956), garbage collection fees ($700,629), refunds/reimbursements ($453,483), utilities franchise tax ($273,747), motor vehicle taxes ($294,000).

The Ahoskie Police Department will receive the lion’s share of the new budget at $2,339,060. Other departments receiving six-digit expenditures are Administration ($938,639), Fire ($794,509), Environmental Protection ($751,380), Public Works ($393,552), Streets ($310,039), Inspections ($293,684), Public Building & Grounds ($280,342), Governing Body ($220,496), and Cultural & Recreational ($195,703).

The town also has $1,265,957 worth of debt service payments to make during FY 2023-24.

The new budget is effective July 1.

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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