RONDA — The town board of Ronda approved its annual budget Tuesday evening with little trouble. The only questions which arose were issues on the fire tax and the future of the town’s volunteer fire department.
Following the departmental reports, a public hearing was held for the budget for public concerns. Some citizens were confused about the status of next year’s tax rates and the funding for the fire department.
“We are not making any changes to the tax rate,” said Mayor Victor Varela. “We’re going to leave it at 40 cents (per $100 valuation). If I had gotten an agreement from the county board of commissioners that they would enroll the town of Ronda into the fire district, we would have drop the tax rate to 30 cents. But they didn’t do that so we’ll keep it the same.”
The town will continue to collect the fire tax for the coming fiscal year, but it will be the last year they do so as they hope to enroll in the fire district in the next year.
“It’s a little confusing, because it’s been back and forth,” said Town Advisor Ron Niland. “The budget is set at 40 cents per hundred which has been the same since 1986 and 10 cents of that will go into the fire department for the coming fiscal year. It’s my understanding that the intention is they will continue to do it this year and tell the county that starting next year they need to get into the fire tax district. That gives everybody a year to get things together and make sure we’re on the same page.”
The town commissioners believe it would be beneficial for the town to join the fire district instead of trying to allocate town funds for the fire department every year.
“It just makes sense for them to do everything,” said Varela. “Ronda is a very small portion of the fire district. The thought has been that getting the fire department in the fire tax district will give the fire department a more secure source of funding. There could come a year where we may have to pull much needed funding away. It’s better to just make the transition so it’s guaranteed every year. That’s the theory behind it. We’re going to work on the change throughout this coming year so we’ll be ready to make the federal transition when we prepare the next budget. That’s really what we want to go for. We have no plans to jack up rates this year.”
The only increase in rates will be the sewer, which is controlled by the Yadkin Valley Sewer Authority and not the town.
“The only thing by statute that is set in stone when we adopt the budget is the tax rate,” said Niland. “Once that’s set, we can’t make any changes to it. We can amend parts of the budget such as water rates and we can move money around between different departments. That can be done anytime after the budget is adopted.”
A motion was made to approve the 2016-2017 fiscal year budget, and the motion was passed unanimously.
A few other projects were passed and discussed during the town meeting.
Varela entertained the motion to adopt the flood ordinance they had discussed to get them back into the Federal Emergency Management Agency program. The FEMA ordinance was approved.
A few inactive water accounts were approved to be written off in a unanimous vote.
The mayor suggested they close the Yadkin Bank accounts and roll over to Wells Fargo. The resolution was passed with all in favor.
Board members also talked about the possibility of doing an event for the town as a fundraiser.
“Combining it with a festival will give us something that will get a lot of people here to not only support the future of the department but also support the town,” said Niland.
Varela also stated Librarian Julia Turpin of the Wilkes County Public Library was very interested in the idea of developing a program for Ronda to provide library services, computers for research, and a kids corner in the town.
“It wouldn’t be a full-fledged library, but it would provide an extra service to the town,” said Varela.
Troy Brooks may be reached at 336-258-4058.