Spending plan includes unfamiliar items

Published 6:53 pm Monday, May 16, 2016

When it comes to Washington’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2016-2017, most city residents want to know how it will affect their taxes and the fees they pay for city services such as water, sewer and the like.

The proposed budget calls for increasing the property-tax rate by 2 cents to 52 cents per $100 valuation, meaning the annual taxes on a house valued at $100,000 would increase by $20. It also would increase water, sewer and some other fees

The revenue generated by the two-cent increase in the property-tax rate would go into a fund to help pay for a new police station.

“The tax increase is to be used solely for the land acquisition and construction of a new police station. After one year, the police station capital project fund will have a balance of $1.1 million, and the (2-cent increase) will service $2.2 million of additional debt, at 15 years market interest rates,” according to City Manager Bobby Roberson.

The budget includes items most city residents probably don’t know about.

The proposed spending play, which takes effect July 1, 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 employee, whose salary and benefits are budgeted at $31,436, would take care of the area from Second Street south to the north side of Stewart Parkway between Gladden and Bonner streets.

Part of the funding for that employee comes from money previously earmarked for the city’s façade grant program, which helps pay for improvements to the exteriors of buildings in the downtown area.

The budget also allows the city’s Fire-Rescue-EMS Department to recoup expenses related to dealing with hazardous-materials incidents. Those expenses include manpower, decontaminating or replacing equipment and supplies used during such incidents. The entity deemed responsible for the incident will be billed by the city for the cost of the incident plus any overhead the city incurs related to the incident.

City water customers may have samples of their water analyzed (bacterial testing) for a $100 fee per analysis.

The spending plan allocates $30,985 in total salaries for the five members of the City Council in the upcoming fiscal year, or $6,197 for each member. That equates to $516.42 a month for each council member.

The budget appropriates $10,845 for the mayor’s annual salary, or $903.75 a month.

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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