By Alex Bridges -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Front Royal residents may find little reason to speak against the locality's proposed fiscal 2013 budget when it comes up for public hearing Tuesday.
If Town Manager Steven Burke's proposed budget is passed, the rates on the town's tax levies and utility rates will not increase.
"The department heads work very hard to minimize their department budgets in order to provide for specific programs and needs that are presented in this budget," Burke said.
The proposed fiscal 2013 budget includes a total spending package of $37.45 million.
The budget offers several benefits sought by the Front Royal Police Department, including the reorganization of agency, Burke explained. Funding as proposed would allow the department to upgrade a lieutenant to the captain position and a sergeant to lieutenant, according to Burke. The crime prevention specialist position would increase from part time to full time, he said.
The upgrades come with increases in the salaries. The budget includes funding for a master police officer and senior dispatcher designation program, according to Burke.
The proposed budget includes a one-time salary bonus for all full- and part-time employees. Full-time workers also would receive a 1 percent salary increase to offset the requirement that employees pay an additional 1 percent into the Virginia Retirement System.
The general assembly this session passed legislation requiring that local employees contribute five percent of their salary to the VRS. The legislation did allow localities to spread the five percent over a period of up to five years. Localities in turn included salary adjustments to offset the costs to employees so they do not see a pay cut.
"Unfortunately, due to the last-minute nature of the state's approval of their budget we were not afforded an opportunity to review the impact of the salary adjustments on our overtime budgets for our police department, our energy services and other departments," Burke explained. "Based upon concern about impacting the overtime budgets we opted to go with the minimal transition this fiscal year."
Council will hold a public hearing on an ordinance to set the VRS rate. Town officials may consider going to a higher rate for the subsequent fiscal year once they evaluate the impact on the overtime budget, according to Burke.
Tax rates for real estate, personal property and machinery and tools remain unchanged under the proposed budget. Front Royal charges 11 cents per $100 of assessed value for real estate; 64 cents per $100 of assessed value for machinery and tools and personal property.
Water and sewer rates will remain the same for the next fiscal year under the proposed budget, Burke said.
"We will most likely be facing a rate adjustment next year," Burke said. "Where we're at as far as the design and construction of our improvements of the wastewater treatment plant we were able to maintain the rates based on the previous fiscal year's rates."
Also on the agenda, council plans to hold a public hearing for a first reading on an ordinance for the town's on-call trash collection. The ordinance seeks to allow the town charge fees for people who generate too much trash and limit the items accepted by the Warren County Transfer Station.
The ordinance as recommended by town officials would let Front Royal limit addresses to one free collection each fiscal year which covers up to 20 bags of trash and appliances or furniture. The town would charge $100 for any collection of more than 20 bags of trash. Also, Front Royal would charge additional fees for each collection after the first.
The limits come at the request of Jimmy Hannigan, director of environmental services, who states in a memo that the town department recently picked up more than two tons of household items from one resident and the operation took man and equipment hours.