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No tax hike in Nashville budget plan

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BY WILLIAM F. WEST
Staff Writer

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

NASHVILLE — The town of Nashville is proposing a nearly $10.35 million budget for fiscal year 2019-20, with slight increases in fees to pick up garbage and recyclables but no tax hike.

Among the proposed spending items, the town is budgeting $127,773 to replace three police cars, $120,000 for a used firefighting ladder truck and $110,000 for new playground equipment and bleachers at the J.W. Glover Memorial Park and Complex.

The town also is budgeting $48,000 for roof work at the Harold Cooley Library, $30,000 for upgrading the town hall’s telephone system and $25,000 for a heating and air conditioning system for parks, recreation and cultural resources.

Additionally, the town’s 64 full-time employees are each proposed to receive a 1.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment to their pay.

The budget proposal also calls for spending $78,000 to rehabilitate a sewer outfall line and $40,000 to study the inventory of the sewer lines to help plan future improvements.

The property tax rate in Nashville would remain at 58 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

Interim Manager Leonard Barefoot, interim Finance Director Melonie Bryan and Assistant Finance Director Russell Langley presented the proposed budget at the town council’s May 1 agenda meeting.

On Monday, the trio of officials and the council met for a work session.

The council members agreed to put the document up for public comment at the May 29 agenda meeting, with the council vote to follow.

"Well, we don't have a tax increase," Councilwoman Louise Hinton said after Monday's work session. "That's good. We're solvent. We have a strong fund balance."

As for whether she's ready to vote for the proposed budget, Hinton said, "I think so."

Councilwoman Kate Burns said she has full confidence in the proposed budget and the folks who prepared the document.

"It was extremely informative. It was well laid out and we have a full understanding — and it looks doable," Burns said.

Mayor Pro Tem Charles Taylor said he is quite pleased with what has been presented to him and his fellow council members.

"It's probably the most detailed budget I've seen since I've been on the town board," Taylor said.

The proposed budget states that the monthly sanitation fee would increase from $12.25 to $14 and that the monthly recycling fee would increase from $3.73 to $4.50.

The document states that as the town continues to grow and develop, the costs to transfer waste to the city of Rocky Mount are increasing. 

As for the increase in the recycling fee, the document states that the cost went up 60 cents per-bin each month and that the town covered the cost.

During the May 1 agenda meeting, Hinton expressed concern about the proposed 2019-20 budget being $1 million higher than the adopted 2018-19 budget.

During Monday’s work session, interim Finance Director Bryan gave the reasons why.

Bryan said although the budget, as adopted for 2018-19, was slightly more than $9 million, auditors advised the need to show capital reserve budget numbers.

Bryan said that was because the town budgeted transfers from the general fund to those reserves. The inclusion brought the total number up to more than $9.42 million.

Bryan said as of the end of March, the budget reflects changes, including for the purchase of a garbage truck and fixes in the utilities fund due to an increase in sales volume. The changes brought the total up to more than $10 million.

She also noted a stronger utilities billing collection system is in place, along with rewritten job descriptions of the town’s finance employees. She also emphasized the town has been experiencing growth in property and sales tax revenues.

Hinton said she believes the council was misled last year about the need for a 7-cent tax increase. The proposed increase came when the since-fired Hank Raper was the town manager.

The budget for fiscal year 2018-19 was adopted with a 2-cent tax increase. Hinton voted against that budget.

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