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City Council begins budget work sessions

Budget work sessions for Washington’s City Council begin at 3 p.m. today, earlier in the afternoon than in previous years.

The council is scheduled to conduct several sessions on the proposed $77 million budget this week in the Council Chambers at City Hall. A session usually lasts about three hours.

The sessions include discussions among the mayor, council members, city manager and department heads.

City Manager Bobby Roberson’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2018-2019, which begins July 1, does not raise property taxes and is not much different than the current budget. The proposed budget does not raise electric rates.

Earlier this month, 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 use of the fund balance to balance the budget will not sit well with Councilman Doug Mercer, who prefers budgeting to the revenues the city acquires.

The general fund — day-to-day operations —for fiscal year 2019 is $16.1 million, or 4.5 percent higher than the current budget.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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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