Hearing allows residents to offer views on budget

Published 7:46 pm Friday, May 11, 2018

Want to have a say in how the City of Washington spends tax dollars? That opportunity presents itself during the City Council’s meeting Monday.

A public hearing on the city’s proposed budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year is set for 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

The proposed $77 million budget does not call for a property-tax increase. It includes funding to hire four additional police officers. The proposed budget establishes several capital reserve funds. The suggested spending plan continues to set aside money to help pay for a new police station.

The proposed budget allocates $71,490 to outside agencies such as Eagle’s Wings and the Coastal Plains Boys & Girls Club, $8,000 less than allocated in the current budget. It also appropriates $431,580 for economic-development entities such as the Washington Harbor District Alliance, Washington-Warren Airport and Arts of the Pamlico. The proposed budget includes the airport as an economic-development entity, and it allocates a $244,769 subsidy for the airport. City officials view the airport as an economic-development tool.

The proposed budget increases participation fees Washington charges youths to use city facilities when playing most youth-league sports will increase.

During a budget work session last month, the City Council, with a 5-0 vote, increased the fee for city residents from $15 to $20 per sport. The council increased the fee for non-city residents from $15 to $30 per sport. The new fees take effect July 1.

Under the proposed budget, Beaufort County residents who live outside Washington might have to pay to use Brown Library, which is operated by the city.

Washington’s City Council, during a budget work session in April, unanimously voted to allow the library to charge $10 to issue a library card to such a resident beginning July 1. A family of three or more would pay $25 for library cards for each family member.

Those fees would take effect if Beaufort County does not provide money to the city to help pay for operating the library. Sixty percent of the library’s patron’s are county residents who do not live in the city, according to Sandra Silvey, library director. The library is seeking $50,000 from the county.

Earlier this year, Councilman Doug Mercer suggested the city to adopt a revenue-neutral approach as it dealt 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.



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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