Property tax increase proposed

Published 6:05 pm Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Washington’s City Council, during its meeting Monday, received a proposed budget that calls for increase the city’s property-tax rate by two cents, from 50 cents per $100 valuation to 52 cents per $100 valuation.

Under the proposed budget, the general fund (day-to-day governmental operations) would be $15 million, or about $192,000 higher than the current general fund budget.

Property taxes are expected to be 3 percent higher in the upcoming budget when compared to the current budget. Revenues from other taxes and fees are expected to be 4 percent higher in the next fiscal year when compared to the current fiscal year.

The proposed budget also calls for increasing some fees.

City Manager Bobby Roberson, in presenting his recommended budget for the upcoming 2016-2017 fiscal year, said the tax increase would be dedicated to helping build a new police station. The proposed budget maintains all city programs and services, as directed by the council.

“The tax increase is to be used solely for the land acquisition and construction of a new Police Station,” reads Roberson’s budget message.

For several years, the city has been setting aside part of its general-fund revenues into a reserve fund to help pay for capital expenditures such as building a new police station. Of the city’s property-tax rate of 50 cents per $100 valuation, just under two cents of that rate is designated for the city’s Public Safety Capital Reserve. Currently, that fund receives about $170,000 each fiscal year.

As of Tuesday, the city’s Public Safety Capital Reserve fund has $867,892 in it earmarked for the new police station.

In recent years, the city worked toward decreasing the revenue transfer from the electric fund. The proposed budget increases that transfer amount from $654,281 to $908,723, a $254,442 increase over the transfer made this fiscal year.

Roberson said the main factor behind the city having to increase its transfer from the electric fund to the general fund for the next fiscal year is the failure of the N.C. General Assembly to keep its promise to provide an alternate revenue source after it took away the city’s authority to generate revenue by issuing business privilege licenses. That decision by the Legislature cost the city at least $100,000 in annual revenue. The city took in about $123,000 in such revenue during the 2013-2014 fiscal year, according to city officials.

The proposed increase in the property-tax rate would increase the annual tax on a $100,000 house from $500 to $520. The last property-tax increase occurred in 2006, when the tax rate went from 55 cents per $100 valuation to 60 cents per $100 valuation. In 2011, after the last property revaluation in the county, the tax rate fell to 50 cents per $100 valuation.

The council has final say on the budget, which should be adopted by June 30, according to state law. The council is scheduled to conduct several budget workshops in the coming days. The tentative public hearing on the budget is set for May 9, with adoption of the budget tentatively scheduled for May 23.

For more information about the council’s meeting, including the proposed budget, see future editions of the Washington Daily News.




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.

email author More by Mike