Budget includes water rate increase

Elkin’s town commissioners will hold their next meeting Monday at 7 p.m. On the agenda are public hearing items such as the 2015-16 budget and budget presentation, a resolution supporting the addition of “In God We Trust” motto on the Town Hall and updates from several projects in the community.

The public hearing will address the 2015-16 Annual Budget that represents a compilation of priorities expressed at the April 23 workshop and February annual retreat. According to interim town manager John Holcomb, “The only rate change is in the increase of the water minimum bill by $0.50 per month or $6 a year. There is also no tax rate increase for the upcoming year.”

According to the proposed budget, “Based in part on tax scrolls provided by Surry County dated May 8, the estimated tax base for the town of Elkin is $469,245,400, which is an increase of $16,978,346 from the actual 2013-2014 tax base. The FY 2015-2016 estimated values represent a 3.7-percent increase in property tax values as compared to FY 2013-2014 values. The vast majority of this increase is due to the increase in personal property by Pittsburgh Glass Works.”

The proposed tax rate for FY 2015-2016 remains the same from the prior year at $0.55 per $100 in property tax value.

The budget does not include any revenue provision for privilege licenses after recent changes in state laws eliminated all municipal privilege taxes in the corporate income tax code. According to the budget, this lost revenue amounts to about $43,000 annually.

“The town is currently working on a joint effort with the town of Jonesville to consolidate ABC Board operations and build a new ABC store that will serve both towns and the surrounding area. Due to these pending changes, the ABC revenue projections for next fiscal year have been reduced from $72,350 down to $50,000. The combined revenue loss from these two revenues sources is equivalent to approximately 1.3 cents of the proposed tax rate for next fiscal year,” said Holcomb in the budget release.

“While we continue to maintain healthy fund balance levels, we have pulled substantial amounts of money out of General Fund reserves to balance both the Water Fund and the General Fund,” Holcomb said. “Since 1994, the town of Elkin’s General Fund contributed $3,565,827 to the Water Fund. This practice had to stop for several reasons. The Local Government Division of the NC Department of State Treasurer has increased its efforts in past years to warn municipalities that enterprise funds must be self-sufficient. Granting agencies also have specific requirements that water rates must be at a certain level in order to qualify a utility for possible grants and low interest loans. Over the past three years, the board has increased water rates which had a positive impact on the financial results of the Water Fund which included ceasing transferring money from the General Fund to the Water Fund. This proposed budget is indicative of these increases and the positive financial results are evident.

“For the second year in a row, we project to have an increase in Water Fund net assets due to increased water rates and the increased volume of water sold,” Holcomb said in the release.

Members of the community can to attend the public hearing at 7 p.m.

The town also plans to vote on the resolution to allow a special interest group to pay for the application of the motto “In God We Trust” to be affixed to the Town Hall building.

An update will be given from Dr. Bill Blackley on the progress of the Elkin Valley Trails Association as well as their grant updates.

Jennifer White will address the board on behalf of the Main Street Advisory Board to discuss the update on the Rock Façade project.

Other items to be discussed include the possible addition of a downtown camera on behalf of WXII, a discussion of Elkin advisory boards and a decision as to whether the board will meet again in July.

Karen Holbrook may be reached at 336-258-4059 or on Twitter @KarenHolbrook00.

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