Council backs 2018 budget

FRONT ROYAL – The Town Council endorsed a nearly $46 million spending plan for next fiscal year Monday night.

No one spoke during a  public hearing that preceded the first reading of the 2018 annual appropriation ordinance that sets the town’s budget for the period.  Council voted 6-0 in favor of the motion to approve the budget on its first reading. Council members John Connolly and Bébhinn Egger as well as Mayor Hollis Tharpe lauded the efforts of Finance Director B.J. Wilson and other employees for their work on the budget.

The fiscal 2018 budget calls for the town to spend $45.89 million. The budget includes a general fund of $10.89 million that covers the town government operations, public safety, information technology, planning and zoning, financial administration and other areas.

The budget also includes a street fund of $2.58 million; $633,395 for economic development; $19.73 million for electrical services; $5.1 million for water and $5.87 million for sewer; and $1.07 million for solid waste collection.

The spending plan forecasts $956,025 in tax revenue from real estate, $555,795 from personal property and $5.13 million from other local levies. The budget calls for the town to transfer $1.95 million from the electric fund and $509,000 from the water fund to use for other purposes.

The town set the tax rates at 13.5 cents per $100 of the assessed value for real estate; 64 cents on personal property; 4 percent on meals and 6 percent on lodging.

Also at the meeting, council approved on its first reading an ordinance to increase the existing utility base rates for residential and commercial customers and to change the power-cost adjustment charges. The changes call for an increase in the facilities charge per billing cycle for residential customers from $6.24 to $7. The per kilowatt hour rate would remain at 8.49 cents for residential customers. The facilities charge for commercial customers would increase from $6.40 to $7.16 per billing cycle. The per kilowatt hour rates would remain at 11.51 cents  for the first 700 kilowatt hours and at 7.56 cents for all hours over 700.

Councilman John Connolly explained that even though the town boasts one of the lowest electricity rates in the state. certain costs for the power source continue to increase across the market.

The council also held a public hearing on an ordinance to make changes to the town code pertaining to fees. The ordinance as adopted increases the fee for after-hours shut-off calls for water service from $25 to $30; increases fees to collect tires with or without rims; removes the fees charged by the Police Department for minor accident reports and removes miscellaneous fees for hard copies of certain documents.

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