Jonesville proposed budget calls for tax increase
by Taylor Pardue
Jonesville’s Town Council is expecting major changes in taxes and spending for the new fiscal year.
Town Manager Scott Buffkin told the council Friday that this was the hardest budget of the seven he had crafted for the town. He called this an “extraordinary year.”
Town Council members sat down with Buffkin at a special budget workshop Friday to discuss the proposed budget he had been drafting for the 2013-2014 fiscal year. Buffkin said that beginning in July the town could expect major but unavoidable changes, and that commissioners should prepare to hear criticisms.
Tax rates will increase from $0.40 to $0.47, costing a $100,000 house within town limits an extra $70 ($470 total) in property taxes. Buffkin said the town had slashed budgets over the last few years to the point that serious gaps in services would be felt if something was not done.
The budget is currently set at 40 cents, with expected collections totaling $636,000 for the 2012-2013 period. So far collections have been $611,454.13. Buffkin said that was very good for this point in the fiscal year.
Increasing taxes alone will not solve the problem, though. To maintain the same level of service the town provides to its citizens Jonesville will also have to make cuts in department spending.
Buffkin said that up to this point personnel had been left out of budget cuts, but that may have to change. Medical and dental insurance costs for the town’s employees are budgeted to rise from $191,660 to $220,760, a $29,100 increase in one year.
The town will not grant any raises.
Administrative costs should not be driven up unless major increases in overtime occur, which is Buffkin said is unlikely.
Council members agreed to take expense cuts from the expenses portion of their annual allotment. Buffkin said the members were already working at the low end of average pay for council members, but the five council members said they recognized they should not be above cuts while others were not.
The next fiscal year will also include an election year with money set aside for reelections.
The police department, Jonesville’s largest expenditure, will see a decrease in capital outlay money by $34,000 and receive half of what was requested by Police Chief Roger Reece.
Reece requested $68,000 for two additional patrol cars, but Buffkin said there was not enough money to buy and outfit both. He did include enough money to give the department one new car.
Jonesville’s police cars are aging, and increased maintenance costs are an issue. One patrol car has had trouble with the transmission, Buffkin said. Officers have to “hot seat” their cars, which involves keeping the cars running shift after shift with different drivers. This causes even more stress in the vehicles.
Buffkin said that issues like this will become more likely as the entire fleet of vehicles, including public works and other town vehicles, have an added year of wear on them.
The police have not had a new car in two years.
Starting next year the town will have to start paying back the money for the town’s water plant. The amount is $120,000. Boonville is considering buying water from Jonesville, but even with their added revenue Jonesville would not see a profit for at least two years.
Buffkin said the timing was good for interest rates on the payments, though. Rates are some of the lowest they have ever been and even with increases the price will not go above 3.25 percent.
The possibility of tax reworking at the state level was a bright spot during the discussions. Talks are ongoing in Raleigh concerning the elimination of several small taxes like the beverage tax on alcohol and a proposed hike in sales tax to 8 percent.
The increases in sales tax would hopefully offset the loss of the smaller taxes and ensure everyone pays taxes fairly, Buffkin said. Property taxes are the only revenue Jonesville has control over, as sales taxes are set by the state. If the sales tax increases, property owners would not have to shoulder all the responsibility.
However, Buffkin said the state had not produced real-world figures to what the tax increases would actually bring in.
Sales taxes work on the county level, not based on what city they are collected in. Jonesville’s large sales base of hotels and restaurants send their sales taxes to the state, which then distribute them to Yadkin County. Yadkin County then divvies up the total by population.
Jonesville would receive a portion of the earnings because of its size, but the amount would not be exactly what was collected in the town.
The town does receive all of the occupancy taxes brought in by its hotels, though.
Jonesville would however benefit along with other areas of the community if a new retail store was built in Yadkinville, as the taxes would be subject to the same standards.
The town’s greenway has money left dedicated for it from grants. If a proposed westward expansion is approved the money will go toward that, but if not the money and the expenses both disappear. Either way the town’s budget will be unaffected.
The town is beginning to look at new options for trash pickup to cut costs. Currently the trash costs residents $1 a day.
The Jonesville Fire Department and the former town hall buildings are kept up as part of the recommended $22,000 maintenance and repair budget under the public buildings section of the budget.
Buffkin said the town was keeping just enough energy in the building “to keep the pipes from freezing.” Commissioner Danny Lewis suggested selling the town hall building and the town’s property across from the Jonesville Library to fund a new building for the library.
More discussion on the suggestion is expected at the next council meeting in May.
A second budget meeting will be held next Friday morning, April 19, at 8 a.m.
To contact Taylor Pardue call 336-835-1513 ext. 15, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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