The budget for the town of Elkin was passed on Tuesday night in Town Hall.
Elkin adopted a $4,759, 926 budget, a six-percent increase over last year. The Water Fund is expected to generate $1,167,810, a 3.9-percent increase. The budget does not increase property taxes.
After citizen backlash from proposed budget cuts, however, Board of Commissioners amended the original proposed budget to include the following changes:
• Commissioners restored funding ($80,939) for two evening dispatchers of the Elkin Police Department. The restoration means Elkin will keep answering its own 911 calls within the Elkin Police Department. The lobby doors to the Elkin Police Department will remain open 24 hours a day.
• A leaf and limb staffer who randomly drives throughout Elkin searching for debris has been eliminated. The position saves the town $36,861. Residents needing leaf and limb service are now required to call the Public Works department and have debris picked up within 72 hours.
• If no unforeseen emergencies arise at the Elkin Public Library, commissioners will tap into Lillard Funds by removing $10,000 per year over the next six years. The Lillard trust fund was established in the 1980s after the death of James Lillard. Elkin Public Library Trustees indicated the intent of the Lillard Fund was not for commissioners to balance their budget. Elkin taxpayers are funding a special appropriation of $75,000 to the Elkin library, in addition to the $10,000 from the trust fund.
• Commissioners allocated $15,000 for a structural engineer for the Rock Facade in downtown Elkin.
The town allocates $117,000 for Capital Reserve Funds earmarked for economic development projects and recreation.
“Ladies and gentleman, we have a budget,” said Mayor Lestine Hutchens. The adoption of the fiscal year 2014-2015 budget was the most controversial in recent years for commissioners.
After the budget was adopted, residents chimed in voicing frustration at what they said was a closed ability to voice concerns during the workshop. Two residents objected to town staff raises and bonuses, with one objecting to a minimum bill for use of town water.
Commissioner Skip Whitman urged residents to work their concerns through leaders of special interest groups who are provided a platform to speak during the town retreat.
Hutchens said the public always has a method to be heard at each Town Hall meeting under public comments.
Some residents left Town Hall upset.
“I don’t care about a regular town meeting. This is a workshop. No wonder nobody goes to the retreat or the workshops. Now you have to be part of a special interest and appoint someone to speak for you in order to be heard,” shouted a resident while departing.
Commissioners went into closed session on an economic development matter with no actionable item expected.
Anthony Gonzalez may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @newsgonz.