Proposed city budget keeps property taxes at their existing level

Published 7:09 pm Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Washington’s proposed $77.2 million overall budget for fiscal year 2018-2019 does not raise property taxes and is not much different than the current budget.

City Manager Bobby Roberson formally presented his recommended budget for the upcoming fiscal year to the City Council during its meeting Monday. The council, starting April 23, will begin a series of budget meetings to finalize the budget. The proposed budget does not raise electric rates.

Roberson told the council the proposed budget was balanced by dipping into the city’s fund balance, or rainy-day fund. The proposed budget transfers $694,795 from fund balance to the general fund.

The general fund — day-to-day operations —for FY 2019, which begins July 1, is $16.1 million, or 4.5 percent higher than the current budget.

“Our budget is a document containing projects and services paid for by tax dollars and other revenue sources to provide those essential public services granted by the enabling legislation in North Carolina for public purposes,” Roberson said.

The three main components of the overall budget are general fund, $16.1 million; enterprise funds (water, sewer, electricity, stormwater and more), $45.1 million and other funds (ranging from the Brown Library trust fund to economic-development funds), $15.9 million.

The proposed budget, according to Roberson, does the following:

  • continues the city’s pay-as-you-go policy on major expenses such as capital projects;
  • create an environment in city government in which efforts to “spend down” during the fiscal year are discouraged by management;
  • provide for analysis of general government cost centers to identify where tax dollars are being spent on specific services;
  • continue to rely on financial plans and recognized systems in the preparation of the budget;
  • provide conservative estimates for revenues and expenditures to avoid performance expectations that are not realistic;
  • review general-fund money and enterprise funds to determine if adjustments are needed to more appropriately recover the cost associated with individual programs or services and thus reduce the need of general-fund dollars for those operations.

The suggested spending plan does not decrease the amount of money being transferred from the electric fund to the general fund, something the city had been doing for several years. The proposed budget transfers $1,162,690 from the electric fund to the general fund, the same transfer made in the current budget.

Several years ago, the city was transferring a little more than $1 million each fiscal year from the electric fund to the general fund. In fiscal year 2012, the city transferred $973,150 from the electric fund to the general fund. By fiscal year 2015, that transfer fell to $470,000. In fiscal year 2016, that transfer was $654,281.

The proposed budget is revenue-neutral. Beaufort County is in the final stages of its revalution process. The council will have to wait until it receives information regarding property values from the county before it can set the property tax rate for the next fiscal year. Currently, that rate is 52 cents per $100 valuation. Preliminary figures indicate property values in the city limits increased by a little more than 1 percent, but that percentage could change by the time the new property values are finalized, according to Matt Rauschenbach, the city’s chief financial officer.

For additional details of the proposed budget, see future editions of the 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.

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