Council OKs budget

Published 8:03 pm Monday, June 18, 2012

Washington’s City Council unanimously adopted the city’s 2012-2013 on Monday.

The budget approval came during a brief council meeting. The budget, which takes effect July 1, does not raise fees for water, sewer, stormwater and trash-collection services.

“Mr. Mayor, I think my opinions were expressed last week, and I’m still somewhat amazed that we have a $65 million budget and that we could only find $13,000 worth of reductions in that big a budget in our discussions,” said Councilman Doug Mercer. “During our discussions, we indicated that there were a number of activities that we felt needed to be made, one of those related to the user-fee schedule. We indicated that we really didn’t have time to discuss it at the point in time and that we would appoint a committee to look at the user fees. I would like to request that the mayor be prepared to appoint the committee that’s to review the fees at next weeks scheduled meeting.”

Mayor Archie Jennings replied, “OK. Fair enough.”

Jennings continued: “One thing I will add, and this has been said before, again I take the councilman’s comments constructively. I will note, though, just for clarification in the broader context of the discussion, that the staff did a wonderful job here in delivering a budget that already included a more-than-$1 million reduction in the general fund. So, we started headed down a million dollars in the general fund, and we added to that to some degree. I think the council and the staff are to be commended in delivering another viable and beneficial-to-the-community budget in tough times.”

The $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 budget 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 budget also reduces Washington Electric Utilities’ residential rates by 1 percent.

The budget transfers $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.



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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