Mount Airy’s proposed budget for 2016-2017, which was presented during a meeting of the city Board of Commissioners Thursday night, offers a mixed bag for residents.
While no increase in the property tax rate is included, water and sewer rates would be hiked by 4 percent under the spending plan for the next fiscal year that goes into effect on July 1.
Also, the proposed budget unveiled by City Manager Barbara Jones recommends that the commissioners adopt a new revenue source, a tax of $15 for each licensed vehicle in the municipality.
The preliminary budget for the next year also includes funding for major goals set by the board, such as the redevelopment of the former Spencer’s Inc. industrial property now owned by the city government, and improvements to Market Street.
It also includes funding for pay raises in order to begin bringing municipal workers up to an average level reflected in a municipal salary survey for the state, but no percentage figure is listed.
“Increases will vary depending on tenure and position table,” states a budget summary from the city manager. Overall, personnel costs — which make up 60.9 percent of the budget — are anticipated to grow by 8 percent as a result.
Jones pointed out in her presentation Thursday night that the proposed general fund budget for 2016-2017 calls for total appropriations of $14,469,370, which is 1.14 percent less than the adjusted budget for the present fiscal year.
A separate budget for the water-sewer operation calls for appropriations of $6,541,019, an increase of 1.29 percent in that category from this year.
In announcing the 4-percent increase in water-sewer rates included in the preliminary budget, the city manager pointed out that no hikes have occurred since 2008.
Meanwhile, the city is funding infrastructure needs of the system at a rate of about $600,000 per year, which will mean an estimated addition of $200,000 under present consumption volumes.
“This change will mean an approximate (increase) of $26.16 annually for the average residential customer inside the city,” Jones said.
The property tax rate is projected to stay at 48 cents per $100 of assessed valuation despite a recent property reappraisal that reduced Mount Airy’s tax base by nearly 7 percent. This is expected to result in a $35,600 decrease in revenues for the upcoming fiscal year compared to the present one.
Jones said the new $15 per vehicle tax recommended would include $5 that would be unrestricted, with the other $10 to go toward maintaining, repairing, constructing and improving public streets that are not on the state highway system.
To help balance the budget, $3.1 million would be earmarked from the city’s general fund balance, or savings, which now totals more than $12 million.
The proposed spending plan also includes money for a roll-off truck in the sanitation division along with mowers and the replacement of vehicles in other departments.
Citizens will get a chance to weigh in on the proposed budget during a public hearing scheduled for the June 2 meeting of the board of commissioners.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.