By Alex Bridges -- firstname.lastname@example.org
STRASBURG -- Town residents and business owners could expect to pay more for water and sewer starting in July if the budget passes as drafted.
The budget and rate increases attracted no speakers or debate among council during a public hearing on the proposed fiscal 2013 budget held Tuesday. Council plans to vote on the budget -- which includes rate increases -- June 12.
However, at least two residents spoke at the public hearing held on a business owner's request to add grooming to her pet supply store, All Dogs Great and Small, located at 510 W. King St.
Speakers expressed support for the additional use but said they opposed any attempt by the owner to board animals on the premises. The special-use permit sought by owner Old Oak Property Holding LLC included such a restriction.
Council members spent most of the 30 minutes taken on the matter to debate whether the town should limit the owner to selling only the items she listed in the permit request. The term "light retail" appeared vague to some members of council who expressed worry that the owner could start selling more items beyond what may fall under the permit.
The proposed budget of $9.33 million represents a 3 percent increase over the current financial plan. The proposed budget includes a 1 percent increase in the amount town employees must pay into the Virginia Retirement System, offset by an equal raise in their salary.
The proposed budget includes no increases in taxes.
But residents and businesses would see their bills for water, sewer and trash collection increase beginning July 1. The draft budget calls for raising the water rates by 12.10 percent to cover operational costs of the new treatment plant and pay for the loan the town acquired to build the facility.
Sewer rates increase by 6 percent under the proposed budget. The town plans to use the increase in revenue to pay for the future expansion of the wastewater treatment plant, with $700,000 going into reserve for the upgrade. Trash collection would rise by 25 cents each month as a result of an increase imposed by the contractor, according to town officials.
- Other highlights of the proposed budget:
- A 1 percent increase in the general fund of $4.04 million over the current fiscal plan
- Includes the lease-purchase of one police department vehicle
- $40,000 for the pedestrian path along U.S. 11
- $60,000 for the Downtown Streetscape Enhancement Project
- $30,000 for Madison Heights Storm Water improvements
- An increase in the water fund of 12 percent to $1.4 million and $90,000 spent to replace water lines on Ash Street
- An increase in the sewer fund of 8 percent to $2.6 million and $80,000 spent to replace lines on King Street
Also at the meeting, Town Council unanimously approved a request to rezone 2.009 acres of land at 33699 Old Valley Pike from X-Transitional to C-2, Highway Commercial. Town officials noted that more steps must be taken before further development can occur on the property. Developers must receive approval from the Virginia Department of Transportation to build entrances and exits from the property to U.S. 11, officials said. The developers also must conduct a traffic impact analysis to reflect the property's possible use in the future.