City budget hearing scheduled for Monday

Published 7:27 pm Friday, May 5, 2017

The public hearing on Washington’s proposed budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year is set for 6 p.m. Monday.

After breezing through budget work sessions this past week, the City Council is ready to receive public input on the proposed $75 million spending plan. City Manager Bobby Roberson’s recommended budget, distributed to council members and the mayor April 1, included an increase of three cents on the city’s property tax rate, moving it from 52 cents per $100 valuation to 55 cents. During one of its budget work sessions this past week, the council rejected the proposed tax increase.

The proposed budget does not increase water, sewer, electric or stormwater rates. It does reduce the tie-down fees charged by the Washington-Warren Airport. The Airport Advisory Board recommended the decrease, saying that a previous increase in those fees resulted in the airport losing revenue because planes went to other airports after the fees were increased.

The proposed budget does not recommend reducing electric rates, something Councilman Doug Mercer, earlier this year, suggested the council consider. During the council’s budget work session Wednesday, Mercer told his council colleagues the city’s Electric Utilities Advisory Commission recommends decreasing electric rates for all city power customers by 3 percent.

The wholesale rate the city pays for buying power from Duke Energy was reduced by 4.5 percent April 1. Mercer, who delivered that message during the City Council’s meeting Monday. Mercer, who represents the city on the North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency board of directors, told the council in February, the city can expect a 3-percent increase in its wholesale rate in 2020, followed by another 3-percent increase in 2021.

Roberson warns that if the city reduces its electric rates in the upcoming budget, then increases those rates several years later to offset the projected increases in what the city pays for power, which might not sit well with city power customers.

The proposed budget allocates $200,000 for drainage improvements at various locations in the Jack’s Creek basin.

The proposed budget allocates $98,000 toward a new fishing pier at Havens Gardens.

City Manager Bobby Roberson’s proposed spending plan for the next fiscal year continues to set aside money for a new police station. Currently, the city has $1.24 million set aside for the new facility.

In his recommended budget, Roberson suggests transferring $166,970 from the general fund to the public safety capital reserve fund, the same amount transferred in the current budget. Roberson also recommends increasing the police station capital fund from $1,241,854 in the current fiscal year to $1,665,562 in the upcoming fiscal year, an increase of $423,708.

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.

For at least 15 years, city officials have wrestled with building a new police station, building a new fire station to replace the headquarters station on North Market Street or a facility that would house both services.

The council meets at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the Council Chambers in the Municipal Building, 102 E. Second St. To view the council’s agenda for a specific meeting, visit the city’s web­site at, click “City Agendas.” Locate the appropriate agenda (by date) under the “Washington City Council” heading, then click on that specific agenda listing.




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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