Budget maintains tax rate

Published 8:38 am Saturday, June 23, 2007

By Staff
Spending plan to be voted on by City Council
Contributing Editor
Washington’s City Council is expected to adopt the city’s budget for fiscal year 2007-2008 when it meets Monday.
That budget is expected to keep the city’s property-tax rate at 60 cents per $100 valuation. That means the annual city taxes on a $100,000 house will remain at $600.
Water rates, sewer rates and the fee for garbage collection will increase, if the proposed budget is adopted. The fee for garbage collection and disposal will increase $2 a month. The draft budget calls for increasing stormwater fees by 5 percent.
The proposed spending plan also reflects no proposal to increase the city’s electric rates this calendar year.
The total proposed budget comes to $65 million, including a proposed general fund of nearly $13 million. The current general fund is at nearly $13 million.
City Manager James C. Smith is recommending that water rates increase by 6 percent and sewer rates increase by 7 percent. In his original spending plan, Smith recommended water rates increase by 5 percent and sewer rates increase by 6 percent.
Those suggested increases were revised upward when Smith determined the higher increases would provide the revenue needed to make the water fund and sewer fund more self-supporting. Making its enterprise funds self-supporting is a goal of the city.
Because most of its enterprise funds operated at deficits during the 2005-2006 fiscal year, the council hired an enterprise-funds controller to oversee those funds and make them more self-sufficient. Also, the city’s revenue stream is having problems keeping up with its expenditures stream in recent years.
In the past six months, city officials have been focusing on ways to increase revenues, cut expenses and better run the city.
The proposed budget includes $130,000 for paving Pamlico Street.
During a previous budget session, the council decided to reopen the Bobby Andrews Recreation Center during the summer. It was closed last summer. That decision added $5,100 to the proposed budget to cover the costs of opening the center fours hours a day during weekdays.
The proposed spending plan calls for increasing the free-swim fee at the aquatics center from $2 to $3 and increasing the membership fee for the aquatics center by $5 per quarter.
The draft spending plans includes $15,000 for a feasibility study of the former Evans Seafood property, but Smith recommends not funding that study in the upcoming fiscal year.
Smith also recommends not funding repairs to Brown Library, replacing the elevator at City Hall and hiring an architect to do a cost study of facilities improvements citywide in the upcoming budget.
The proposed spending plan includes a 3 percent cost-of-living adjustment for city employees.
The council meets at 4:30 p.m. Monday in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building at 102 E. Second St.