The City of Clinton’s budget totals a shade over $14 million, down more than 3 percent from the current year while maintaining services and projecting more sizable revenues due to ballooning sales tax yields and a growing city thoroughfare.
The proposed city budget totals $14,006,800, a 3.3 percent decrease from the current 2015-16 budget. The General Fund totals $9,102,000, a decrease of 4.5 percent from the current amended budget, while the Water and Sewer Fund is $4,786,400, a 1.3 percent increase.
Contrary to the use of reserves in 2015-16, the proposed plan calls for no utilization of fund balance in either the General or Water and Sewer funds. There are nominal utility hikes included in the proposal. The tax rate will remain at 40 cents per $100 valuation under the plan.
The proposed 2016-17 budget is scheduled for adoption at a special meeting tonight (Tuesday), to be held at the City Hall Auditorium.
City manager Shawn Purvis said the budget is decreasing while maintaining all current services and implementing fire inspection, sidewalk and storm draining programs. He said sales tax projections are driving revenue growth.
“That’s a positive sign there are some signs of economic recovery,” the city manager stated.
New housing units in 2015-16 also have quadrupled over the growth from the decade of 2000-10. Purvis said that growth will only continue, noting “the anticipated growth is not yet realized.” He credited the N.C. 24 project with helping to bring not only those projects, but also more people — contractors, construction workers and the like — to town which has meant more dollars spent at motels, stores and restaurants.
“That helps where fund balance had to be used in previous years,” Purvis said.
Along with the two large funds, the Downtown Fund totals $71,400, Cemetery Fund is $45,000 and there is $1,000 allocated for both the Community Development and Fire Special funds.
Major capital items included in the General Fund are the first phases in a police station addition ($300,000) as well as a $500,000 Royal Lane Park renovation ($250,000 from city), along with the repairing of the roof of the Bellamy Center. Four police vehicles will also be purchased.
Municipal vehicle tax will also rise from $5 to $10 per vehicle under the proposed plan.
In the Water and Sewer Fund, the N.C. 24 Industrial Park utilities will account for $400,000 in next year’s budget, according to the proposed budget. Utility line equipment replacement will mean $350,000 more and the rehabilitation program will be funded $200,000 a year for the next five years.
The city is proposing the addition of a one-ton truck for maintenance at a cost of $40,000, as well as a $350,000 sewer vac truck, which will be financed.
An oft-discussed and long-awaited wastewater treatment plant and well expansion is budgeted in the amount of roughly $4.8 million in 2017-18, while the bulk of the expense for the N.C. 24 expansion utilities ($2.3 million) and N.C. 24 Industrial Park utilities ($3.17 million) projects are scheduled for funding in 2018-19, along with the $500,000 for the Pierce Street expansion utilities in the area of Royal Lane Park, an add-on project accompanying the N.C. 24 (Sunset Avenue) expansion.
To offset some of the upcoming project costs and keep the Water and Sewer Fund stable, a hike of utility fees has been proposed, by which water base rates would rise from $12.56 to $12.62 and sewer base rates from $13.08 to $13.15. Water and sewer consumption rates would be just a penny more over the current rates, from the current $1.88 to $1.89 for water usage per 100 cubic feet and $1.83 to $1.84 for sewer.
Residential garbage collection will remain at $15.50 per month.
With the proposal, the average household will pay just 26 cents more per month, or $3.12 more annually, from $49.68 to roughly $49.94. Large households using 1,600 cubic feet will see a rise of 42 cents, from about $79.36 to $79.78 per month, just over $5 more for the year.
The proposed half-percent utility fee hike is anticipated to boost revenues by $16,000. The utility rates were raised 1.5 percent for the current budget.
“It seems like the budget is more and more challenging each year,” said Mayor Lew Starling, “and staff does a good job addressing infrastructure and other needs.”
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.