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Manager, staff make finishing touches to proposed city budget

City Manager Bobby Roberson and city staff are putting the finishing touches on his recommended fiscal year 2018-2019 city budget, which he will formally present to the Washington City Council during its meeting Monday.

The proposed budget does not call for a tax increase, Roberson said Monday.

Once it has the proposed budget before it, the council will begin its review of the document. The council is expected to forward budget-related questions and budget clarifications to Roberson by April 16. The council’s budget workshops are scheduled to begin April 23 and continue for several days that week. The tentative date for a public hearing on the proposed budget is set for May 14, with that budget possibly being adopted May 21.

“It’s just a basic overview. The department heads had made a lot of requests. Based on the funding cycle we had, I had to make a lot of deductions, removals from those line items they wanted. Some of them I had to push out into capital improvements program,” Roberson said. “Basically, it��s the same setup we had the previous year. We did get a modest increase in our insurance (for city employees) coverage. … We did absorb the insurance increase. In addition to that, we included the (employee) longevity checks and merit (pay) increase inside the budget.”

The proposed budget reflects the council’s input regarding programs, services and projects it wants to continue or initiate in the coming fiscal years.

The proposed budget will include recommendations regarding funding for outside agencies and economic-development entities.

The agencies are asking for a combined $164,414, according to their requests. Two new entities — Daughters of Worth and the Pamlico Rose Institute for Sustainable Communities — are among the agencies seeking city funds. Pamlico Rose Institute for Sustainable Communities is seeking $10,000. Daughters of Worth seeks $500.

The institute rehabilitates failing or vacant historic houses for use in residential programs for female veterans and disabled veterans and their families. Daughters of Worth, which started in Greenville, is expanding into Beaufort County. The nonprofit’s website says it provides young girls with the tools needed to be successful in life.

Washington’s current budget allocates $126,680 in direct and in-kind contributions to outside agencies and some economic-development entities.

The following is a list of the agencies (excluding Daughters of Worth and Pamlico Rose Institute for Sustainable Communities) and their funding requests:

  • Arts of the Pamlico, $15,000;
  • Boys & Girls Club of the Coastal Plain, $20,000;
  • Zion Shelter and Kitchen, $7,600;
  • Highway 17 Association, $7,500;
  • Purpose of God Annex Outreach Center, $11,664;
  • Eagle’s Wings, $1,000;
  • Kiwanis Club of Washington, $1,350;
  • Wright Flight, $5,000;
  • Washington Harbor District Alliance, $55,000;
  • Cornerstone Community Learning Center, $7,000;
  • North Carolina Estuarium, $15,000;
  • Beaufort-Hyde-Martin Regional Library, $7,800.

Earlier this year, Councilman Doug Mercer said he wants the city to adopt a revenue-neutral approach as it deals with revalution of property values during the council’s budget preparations in the coming months.

A revenue-neutral policy is a taxing method that allows a government — local, state or federal — to receive the amount of tax revenue despite changes in tax rates. The government may lower taxes for a specific group of taxpayers and/or increase taxes for another specific group of taxpayers. This allows the overall revenue the government takes in to remain unchanged, or neutral.

The revaluation of property in Beaufort County takes effect this year. A county must conduct a revaluation at least every eight years.

The following is an example of a revenue-neutral property-tax scenario. If a homeowner owns a house valued at $100,000 and the property tax rate is 50 cents per $100 valuation, that homeowner pays an annual tax of $500. If the value of that house increases to $125,000, the homeowner would pay $625 a year in taxes if there were no revenue-neutral policy in place. By lowering the tax rate to 40 cents per $100 valuation, a government would receive $500 a year in taxes, the same amount the homeowner paid in previous years.

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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