Warrenton residents will have a chance to make comments on the town’s proposed 2021-22 budget during a hearing Monday night at Town Hall beginning at 6:45 p.m.
During a budget work session held May 25, Town Administrator Robert Davie reminded the board that ad valorem tax revenue in the coming fiscal year would be short based on projections from the county, which collects property taxes for the town. In his annual budget presentation at the May board meeting, he projected tax revenues down $32,000 from the current fiscal year and said the town had yet to resolve the reduction with the county.
Commissioner Mark Wethington said he had been told, in conversation with county tax office personnel, that major issues with software had been a problem and some tax bills had been wrong.
Davie said he would continue to pursue the issue.
Several items discussed during the work session have been added to the proposed budget, which is still being developed, along with an appropriation of $78,105 from fund balance, or cash reserves.
Davie told board members that the Local Government Commission, a part of the state treasurer’s office that oversees financial operations of municipal and county governments, doesn’t like to see fund balance used for recurring expenses and that it should only be appropriated for one-time expenses.
Davie’s original draft budget included no use of fund balance.
Wethington suggested adding to the budget a cost of living increase for town employees at 1.3 percent, and there appeared to be consensus that town staff deserves some type of increase even in a lean year.
Commissioner Mary Hunter said she would like the board to do better than a 1.3 percent increase.
Davie said a 2 percent increase had been given last year and a 5 percent increase given the year before. Some years a one-time bonus had been given, he said.
Mayor Walter Gardner asked that $10,000 be budgeted for the town’s Plummer Hook & Ladder Museum, the typical annual allocation, calling the museum “one of our historic gems.”
Improvements to the walking path at the Hayley-Haywood Park discussed during the work session will be completed by the end of this month and will not affect the new budget.
Also during the meeting, Wethington suggested that the town consider a marketing director position at an annual salary of $40,000 to $50,000 part-time.
Commissioner Edna Scott said that was more a full-time salary, but the position would definitely be a good investment and should maybe be part-time at $20,000.
During brief discussion, it was suggested that a fellows program could be pursued to help fund such a position, needs should be considered to determine what and how to market the town, and that the idea needed to be hashed out.
Since the work session, the following items have been added to the draft budget: a 2 percent COLA for town employees; $10,000 for the fire museum; $14,650 to update the historic district; and $25,000 in additional legal expenses for negotiations with the county on the wastewater treatment plant contract and legal expenses related to the Milano’s redevelopment grant.
Davie said that some expenses may be offset by federal American Recovery Act funding.
There is no proposed change to the town’s 65-cent tax rate, fees, or water and sewer rates.
Warrenton Town Hall is at 113 S. Bragg St., Warrenton, followed by the board’s regular monthly meeting.
For a copy of the proposed budget, contact Town Hall at 252-257-1122.