Budget holds most service fees steady

FRONT ROYAL – In the town’s proposed budget for next year, most utility fees are unchanged for residents.

Town Manager Steve Burke presented his recommended budget for fiscal 2017 of $45.85 million at a work session Monday. Town Council will continue deliberations over the spending plan and hold a public hearing on the budget in May.

However, the town has yet to set its tax rates for real estate and other levies. Council failed last week to agree on whether or not to leave the real estate tax rate at 13 cents per $100 or increase the levy by a penny to generate more revenue that at lease one member wanted to use to help pay for a new police headquarters.

Council might have a tough time reaching a deal at its next meeting because two members will be absent, Mayor Timothy Darr said at the work session. Council could still reach the required supermajority with four members voting. However, Councilman Bret Hrbek pointed out that the town would need to re-advertise the public hearing on tax rates because no motion passed at the last meeting. Town Attorney Doug Napier nodded his head in the affirmative.

The proposed budget reflects a 3.7 percent increase over the current budget of $44.24 million. The proposed spending plan includes $13.94 million in the general fund and the remaining amount in the town’s enterprise funds.

Capital or one-time projects funded in the budget include restoration of Commerce Avenue, upgrade of the water treatment plant filter and construction of the Criser Road Trail.

Burke proposes a $1 per hour cost-of-living adjustment for employees. The budget includes funds for seven new positions. The budget also covers a 10-percent increase in the cost for health insurance.

The plan reflects decreased spending in administration, information technology and finance. The budget would increase spending in police, tourism, environmental services, planning and zoning and other areas.

The town would not increase rates for electricity, sewer and water. However, the budget does call for a rate increase for solid waste collection. Users pay $9.92 for the first 3,000 gallons of water and $8.51 for each additional 1,000 gallons. Users pay $16.17 for the first 3,000 gallons of sewer and $13.91 for each additional 1,000.

Monthly solid waste rates for residential users are proposed to remain at $12 for 32-gallon containers and increase from $13.75 to $14.75 for each 96-gallon bin. The rate for 96-gallon containers used by commercial customers will increase from $23 to $26 per month. Commercial dumpsters would increase from $190 to $215 or $240 to $300.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com