Strasburg passes budget, raises taxes

STRASBURG – Town Council adopted its 2016-2017 budget Tuesday night with a 7-1 vote.

The $15,531,427 budget solidifies tax hikes on meals, lodging and utilities, as well as increased sewer, water and trash rates.

The lone opposition vote came from Councilman Richard Redmon, as the last vote of his tenure as councilor.

Per the new budget, meals and lodging taxes will increase by 1 percent, totaling 6 percent, while residents will also pay $1 for natural gas and electricity, along with 10 cents per hundred cubic feet or kilowatt hours, respectively, with a maximum of $2 per month.

The new water rates run residents $24.58 for their first 2000 gallons, and an additional $11.93 for their next 1000 gallons. New sewer rates will cost $19.60 for the first 2000 gallons, and $10.64 for the next 1000.

Council members said the increased taxes went toward balancing a budget designed to invest in capital improvements to better the town in later years. This is the town’s first tax increase since the meals tax hike in 2003, said Finance Director Dottie Mullins.

Councilor Scott Terndrup said the increased revenue will go toward making for a better Strasburg.

“There’s a saying that applies here: If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always got,” he said. “This budget is the community stepping up and saying we want better.”

Some of the capital improvements the budget will cover include $2.2 million in renovations to the downtown streetscapes, $2.6 million toward the first wave of funding for the forthcoming business park, and $33,000 for the town park.

Town manager Ryan Spitzer pointed out to the council that the town leveraged roughly 52 cents on the dollar for its money spent on capital improvement, which did a great deal to lighten the initial cost of development.

Some of the major revenue drawers for the town include roughly $5.5 million in state and federal grants, $989,465 in real estate revenue, $676,500 in meals tax revenue, and $343,750 in property tax revenue.

Other taxes will hold steady, including real estate taxes at 16 cents per $100 of assessed value, personal property taxes at $1.11 per $100 of assessed value, machinery and tools taxes at 86 cents per $100 of assessed value, and 25 cents per pack of cigarettes.

Although two area residents – Randall Hamman and John Massoud – spoke out against the tax increases, Councilor Don Le Vine noted after the budget passed that it’s important residents participate earlier in the budget-forming process if they want to affect change.

The adoption of the budget marks the last votes that Mayor Timothy Taylor and councilors Robert Baker and Richard Redmon will make before their term ends July 1.

Contact staff writer Jake Zuckerman at 540-465-5137 ext. 152, or jzuckerman@nvdaily.com