Proposed spending plan includes fee increases

Published 7:22 pm Friday, April 15, 2016

The proposed city budget for the 2016-2017 fiscal year, which begins July 1, that revenues from permits and fees will be flat during the coming fiscal year because of continued slow residential and commercial growth.

The proposed budget, delivered by City Manager Bobby Roberson to the City Council and mayor on Monday night, calls for a half-percent increase in water rates and a 2-percent increase in sewer rates for the upcoming fiscal year. The increases are needed to provide for the operation and maintenance of those services, according to Roberson. Under the proposed budget, electric rates would not increase during the fiscal year. The city’s stormwater fees would increase by 50 cents monthly for each residential customer, with commercial customers seeing their monthly charges increase by 50 percent, according to the proposed budget. The increases in the stormwater fees would be used to pay for more drainage improvements in the city.

The council has final say on the budget.

“Of the information we received at the retreat, the first five or six priorities are addressed in this (proposed) budget,” Roberson told the council, referring to the council retreat held Saturday. At that retreat, the council developed a prioritized list of issues, challenges and opportunities that face the city. They include the following:

• build a new police station;

• developing a vision and plan for the city covering the next 20 years;

• addressing drainage issues in the city;

• improving and enhancing the downtown  area (keeping it clean) so residents and visitors will want to return there;

• determining whether the city will continue to operate and maintain the city-owned pool with its associated costs;

• addressing the aging infrastructure downtown (old water lines, sewer lines);

• better maintain city facilities and remove those facilities that are beyond repair and/or no longer useful;

• City Council set a positive tone in the relationship between the council and city employees.

The proposed budget includes a full-time public-works employee dedicated to working in the downtown area, keeping it clean and performing other related duties to make that area more attractive and conducive to enhancing the city’s tourism efforts.

The proposed budget calls for increasing the property-tax rate from 50 cents per $100 valuation to 52 cents, which would increase the annual tax on a $100,000 house from $500 to $520.

The council begins a weeklong session of budget meetings April 25.


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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