New Market Town Council and the Planning Commission are holding public hearings Monday to discuss the upcoming year’s budget as well as increased fees for conditional use permit applications.
Work on the budget for the Fiscal Year 2019-2020, which will take effect July 1, began in March when Town Manager Todd Walters laid out the comprehensive list of items council members and town employees had requested. That first draft, Walters said, would have required the town to dip into its reserve fund and pull out roughly $900,000.
He said the intention was never to go with that plan, but he said he thought it was helpful to show council members and residents where the starting point was.
After two more work sessions, with much of the discussion revolving around capital improvement projects, revenue streams and water bills, council members are set to present their proposed budget to voters Monday night.
Walters said he has received calls and visits from residents with concerns about the 68 percent increase to the water utility rate the budget proposes, and he will be giving a brief presentation going over that and other aspects of the budget before the hearing opens.
“I think one of the things that may be a little misunderstood is your bill is not going up 68 percent,” Walters said. “It’s not the bill. It’s just that base rate. We’re trying to get that word out.”
The proposed budget shows revenues from water coming in at a little over $5 million, but those costs are intended to pay for themselves, not raise money for the rest of the town’s operations.
Besides water rates, meals taxes and cigarette tax increases, the town is also considering raising its conditional use permit application from $350 to $750.
Conditional use permits allow landowners to use their land to fit their needs, regardless of where it sits on the zoning map. Often businesses will apply for special use permits to operate out of buildings that are zoned for residential or agricultural use.
Walter said the town has received more applications than usual in recent months, prompting an analysis on how much the process costs the town.
“By the time we do the advertising and all the stuff that it takes to just get this conditional use permit, get all the information out, we weren’t even paying for that,” Walters said. “We felt like we needed to raise this fee to pay for it.”
The town, Walters said, was losing money on each permit processed.
Residents will have the chance to speak about both the proposed budget and conditional use permit application fee during Monday’s meeting.
Typically, Walters said, there isn’t much conversation between council members and residents during the meeting, but they will consider public comments before voting on the final budget.
“If they have something to say about it,” Walter said, “this is their opportunity.”
The meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the Town Hall council chambers at 9418 John Sevier Road.