New Market OKs 2016 budget

The town of New Market adopted its budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year Monday night at a town council meeting.

The final approved budget omits a request from the New Market Chamber of Commerce for an allocation of $1,500 for the next fiscal year.

Of the decision to omit the chamber’s request, Councilman Eddie Litten said the town received an initial request for $4,000 from the chamber that would be used for a brochure to be distributed around town.

“With only approximately 25 percent of the businesses in town that actually belong to the chamber, you cannot use public funds for that,” Litten explained.

Litten noted that the chamber would need to update its website to include every business and restaurant in town for public funding to be provided.

Councilman Tim Palmer said that he did not agree with the decision not to allocate the funds to the chamber of commerce. He noted, “Everybody else that requested funds was put in the budget.”

The chamber, Palmer said, is “making turns in their efforts to include … every business in town.”

Litten also said, “I think people lose track of the fact that the town provides over $20,000 to Shenandoah County Tourism to bring visitors to our town.”

Litten added that he believes the county is doing a “wonderful job” bringing visitors to the town.

Monty Ruckman, owner of Jackson’s Corner Café, urged the town to consider providing funding for the chamber.

He cited the chamber’s efforts through its office at the New Market Battlefield Foundation. “They’re doing everything in their power to bring more people down into this town,” Ruckman said.

Ruckman added that the chamber “provides answers to all the tourists that do come into this town, not only for businesses,” but also for other events that take “in the community.

“I plead that you give them some funds to carry on.”

New Market’s 2016 budget totals $3.31 million, which is a 2 percent decrease from 2015. It also includes a 2-percent hike in water and sewer rates for the town.

Town Manager Mike Ritchie added that, alongside accounting for rising service costs and inflation, the increased utility rates will allow the town to “proactively tackle some protective maintenance projects.”

The approved budget also includes a 2-cent increase for the town’s real estate tax rate from 12 cents to 14 cents per $100 of assessed value.

This increase, Ritchie explained, will allow the town to “build some reserves for” future projects including new sidewalks near Route 211 East as well as drainage improvement along John Sevier Rd.

Also at the meeting, Larry Orebaugh, a longtime chamber member, made a separate request for the town to provide funding for the annual chamber-run New Market Heritage Days.

This year’s event is slated for Sept. 26-27 and, according to Orebaugh, the chamber has no money to put on the event.

“We need your support to back up the chamber, because we’re a volunteer operation,” Orebaugh said.

Orebaugh added, “I don’t have any particular figure on this event, or what the chamber might need, but we leave it up to you to give us some assistance on this.”

Litten said, “Before the town can even consider that, someone in your organization is going to have to come up with a dollar amount … and present that to the [Finance Committee].”

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com