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Budget approval expected

Washington’s City Council likely will adopt the city’s 2012-2013 budget during its meeting Monday.

The proposed $62.2 million budget keeps the city’s property-tax rate at 50 cents per $100,000 valuation, meaning the property tax on a $100,000 house would remain at $500 in the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1. The proposed budget calls for allocating 1.44 cents of that 50 cents per $100 valuation to the city’s capital reserve fund for public-safety facilities and major equipment purchases.

The proposed budget also reduces Washington Electric Utilities’ residential rates by 1 percent. Last year, the council approved a 5-percent reduction in residential rates for WEU customers who lived inside the city limits. The proposed 1-percent reduction applies to all WEU residential customers.

The proposed budget, other than the 1-percent reduction in residential electric rates and a change in the fees charged to two commercial customers who use large amounts of water, keeps fees for water, sewer, stormwater and other services at existing levels, said Matt Rauschenbach, the city’s chief financial officer and assistant city manager.

The city’s decreasing-block rate for large commercial water customers will be replaced by a flat-rate structure, according to a memorandum from Allen Lewis, the city’s public works director, to the mayor and council. The change is necessitated by the state water-conservation regulations, he noted.

The proposed budget calls for transferring $846,121 from the electric fund to the general fund. The current budget transferred $973,150 from the electric fund to the general fund. Until about three years ago, that annual transfer was slightly more than $1 million.

The current council is on record as being committed to eventually doing away with the transfer from the electric fund to the general fund.

Many Washington Electric Utilities customers who don’t live in the city object to transferring money from the electric fund to the general fund. They contend that at least part of the money they pay on their electric bills is used to subsidize city operations, services and programs. Eliminating the annual transfer — or reducing it — and making the general fund self-supporting likely would require finding revenue sources to replace the transfer amount, cutting expenses or a combination of the two, city officials have said in the past.

To view the council’s agenda for its Monday meeting and budget details, including more information on changes to fees, visit the city’s website at www.washington-nc.com, click on the “Government” heading, then click on the “City Council” heading on the menu to the right, then click on “Meeting Agendas” on the menu to the right, then click on the date for the appropriate agenda. The Washington City Council meets at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building, 102 E. Second St.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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