Strasburg Council talks budget, public forum

STRASBURG — The Strasburg Town Council discussed the 2016 fiscal year budget’s revenue and expenditure flow Monday night at its work session.

Dottie Mullins, the town’s financial director, presented the revenue projections for the town. Revenue from the personal property tax is expected to increase 5.76 percent, the sales tax 6.77 percent, the lodging tax 5.38 percent and the motor vehicle tax 5.30 percent.

Mullins said the increases are a reflection of increased performance in the economy, increased equipment in the business park, more people staying in area motels and more vehicles and better enforcement of the vehicle tax.

Real estate and meals taxes are both expected to increase revenue by less than 1 percent and the cigarette tax is expected to decrease in revenue by 2.48 percent due to a drop in sales.

Council member Scott Terndrup pointed out the tax rates for the town did not increase in the proposed budget.

The general fund, Mullins said, is expected to decrease by 4 percent, which is due to less money from the “Streetscape” grant.

“We were in phases one and two this fiscal year and next year we’ll only be doing phase three, so we’re expecting a drop by $150,000 or so,” Mullins said.

The water and sewer funds are expected to increase by 28 percent and 25 percent, respectively. However, $856,000 of the money is placed into the budget to cover the $1.7 million council voted to take from the funds to help pay for the public works building.

“Once you take out that money, which are just being placed there for accounting purposes, both water and sewer will decrease by 4 percent,” Mullins said.

Of major expenditures expected for the year, the town will have to pay $80,000 for its share of the Streetscape project, $65,000 for the design of the Gateway Trail, $10,000 for improvements to the public swimming pool and $17,900 for financial software.

The budget will also have amounts set aside from each fund, 3 percent from general, 5 percent from water and 5 percent for sewer, in case of emergencies. Mullins said at the end of the fiscal year, the money would be put into the town’s reserves.

Council member Don Le Vine asked Mullins if the town would be operating with an even budget from year to year if certain expenditures were taken out of account, such as capital projects.

Mullins said she could try to break down the budget into more exact line items to give council a better idea on how the money would be spent.

Council member Bob Baker noted in the 2016 budget, the water tap fees increased by 16.67 percent. Jay McKinley, the interim town manager, said the fees increase over time due to inflation of the cost of the materials used to hook up a building to the town water.

The council was also presented with the schedule for the budget. April 6 will be a budget work session with “public input,” May 5 would be a work session if the council needs it, May 12 would be a town council meeting and public hearing on the budget and June 10 would be the budget’s adoption.

Council also discussed the possible moving of the town’s public forum, which occurs on the fifth Monday of a month when the calendar allows, to Tuesday, March 31, due to a scheduling conflict with interviewing candidates on that Monday. Council decided to move the interviews to Tuesday and keep the public forum on Monday, March 30.

Contact staff writer Henry Culvyhouse at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or hculvyhouse@nvdaily.com