The budget for the City of Clinton was approved during a meeting Tuesday night, with no increase in taxes for residents, but an increase in monthly garbage collection and water and sewer fees.
The 2015 -16 budget is $812,645 or 5.7 percent less than the 2014-15 amended fiscal plan.
Following the meeting, Mayor Lew Starling called it a responsible and lean budget, which included salary increases for employees and a steady tax rate, which will remain at 40 cents per $100 valuation and allocates $146,900 from general fund reserves.The budget also allows the city to invest in capital projects such as paving and updating equipment.
“It’s a responsible, progressive budget,” Starling said.
The budget includes general fund totals of $8.69 million, which is close to 5 percent less than the previous year. More than $4 million will go towards water and sewer, a 6.75 percent decrease from the 2014-15 financial plan.
General fund revenues are also down 4.5 percent. City Manager Shawn Purvis previously expressed how the total remained flat, as the economy recovered, but he noted how revenues are starting to decline again.
In recent years, revenues from the general fund have decreased due to the retraction of various sources from state legislation. There has been modest growth in sales tax and ad valorem tax revenues, but it has not been enough to cover the loss of $210,000 from hold harmless payments and privilege license fees over the past two years — equal to about 3 cents on the city tax rate.
With $387,000 in debt coming off the general fund’s books in the 2015-16 budget, there is a need to set money aside for ongoing and upcoming projects. The water plant expansion and relocation of utilities on N.C. 24 are two of those projects, with the expansion costing the city $4.8 million and the utility project costing $2.5 million.
To offset those costs, city officials recommended a hike in water and sewer fees by 1.5 percent, expected to yield an increase in estimated revenues of $60,000. The same action was taken for the previous budget.
With the change, water base rates will increase from $12.37 to $12.56 and sewer base rates from $12.89 to $13.08. Water consumption rates would increase from $1.86 to $1.88 per 100 cubic feet and sewer consumption rates would rise from $1.80 to $1.83 per 100 cubic feet.
A 50 cent increase in the fee for garbage will generate another $17,000. In addition, a $35 business registration fee, floated to offset the privilege license elimination, is not included in the budget. The budget also calls for an increase in the fire district tax by a half-cent to 10 cents per $100 valuation — in line with other county districts — which would generate an additional $20,000.
Clinton’s $4 million restricted fund balance is about 45 percent of expenditures. The $146,900 in fund balance set to be allocated in 2015-16 is primarily for capital expenditures for the Recreation Department which includes state matching grants for Royal Lane and Newkirk parks.
For more information or for another look at the budget, visit cityofclintonnc.com.