Archived Story

Budget plan keeps current tax rate

Published 1:26am Thursday, April 18, 2013

The proposed city budget for fiscal year 2013-2014 keeps the property-tax rate at its current level, according to City Manager Josh Kay’s recommended $63.6 million overall budget.

That tax rate is 50 cents per $100 valuation. That means the annual tax on  $100,000 house remains at $500. The proposed budget also keeps electric, water and sewer rates at current levels.

The Washington City Council has final say on the budget, which takes effect July 1.

“The proposed budget was a difficult task to manage given continued uncertainty in the local and regional economy and the continued increases in operating expenditures,” Kay wrote in his budget message. “I believe though, that the FY 2013-2014 budget provides the Washington organization with a very realistic and conservative operational plan that will provide a high level of services to our citizens and customers.”

The overall budget includes a $14.8 million general fund, which covers day-to-day operations of city government. It also includes a $36.3 million electric fund, a $1.58 million reduction when compared to the current electric fund.

Kay’s proposed budget proposes transferring $470,000 from the electric fund to the general fund, a $376,121 decrease when compared to the transfer in the current budget. The council has been working toward eventually eliminating the transfer. Several years ago, that annual transfer was slightly more than $1 million.

The proposed budget includes $740,800 in capital expenditures (equipment, vehicles and building project). Some of that money ($150,000) will be used to light soccer fields, $64,000 has been allocated to repair the restrooms at the Todd Maxwell baseball complex and $25,000 to complete the boardwalk-replacement project.

Kay’s recommended budget includes $75,295 to be distributed among 11 agencies such as the Zion Shelter and Kitchen ($8,500), Beaufort County Boys & Girls Club ($16,000), Purpose of God Annex Outreach Center ($18,000) and the Beaufort County Arts Council ($16,000).

A substantial change in the city’s business-license rates has resulted in a net increase of $280,374 from the current budgeted revenue. The changes include going to a tiered-system for business-license fees. That system is based on gross sales.

Under the proposed fee schedule, service establishments, retail merchants and wholesale merchants would pay $50 for up to $80,000 in annual sales. For a business that has $80,001 to $1 million in annual sales, the fee would be 35 cents for each $1,000 in sales. For a business that has $1,000,001 to $15 million in annual sales, the fee would be 70 cents for each $1,000 in sales. A business that has more than $15 million in annual sales would pay $1 for each $1,000 in sales.

The maximum any business would pay would be $20,000.

For a manufacturer, the fees for the other categories would apply, but with a maximum fee of $10,000. The fee for each Internet sweepstakes machine is $1,000.

Currently, a business with $250,000 in annual sales pays $190. If the proposal were approved, that business would pay $109.50.

Currently, a business with $1,000,001 in annual sales pays $640. If the new fee schedule were imposed, that business would pay $372.

Currently, a business with $5,000,001 in annual sales pays $1,500. If the proposal were approved, that business would pay $3,172.

Currently, a business with $35 million in annual sales pays $1,500. If the new fee schedule were implemented, it would pay $20,000.

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