No tax increase was included in the Town of Strasburg’s 2021-22 budget proposal that was presented to the Finance & Personnel Committee in a meeting on Tuesday night.
An increase in curbside trash pickup from $11.95 to $12.13 and an extra trash cart rental fee increase of $1 to $1.02, as contractually dictated by the town’s trash collection agency, is included in the proposal.
A $3 minimum bill increase for sewer fees, the same as the formerly dubbed “administrative fee,” which would go toward fixed costs, is also included in the proposal.
The general fund is looking to increase in expenses by just under $1 million to $9.4 million and end with a $10,357 surplus. The expense increase is expected to be offset by increased projects in revenue in meals and sales taxes, as well as increased revenue from new development in town.
Among expense changes to the general fund are: the addition of an assistant town manager to take on administrative and economic development responsibilities; an additional zoning administrator to allow the one-man department to provide planning directions; converting a part-time employee in the police department to full-time to help with the town’s increased work associated with being accredited.
The proposed new positions are countered with a reduction of an employee in the community development department.
Included among non-capital projects and noteworthy expenses that were presented are a $20,000 needs assessment for a public safety building, which has previously been discussed at meetings as an impending need for a growing police department.
Also included: a $20,000 compensation, benefits and classification study to see how the town compares to other municipalities; $17,000 for public transit in town; a $15,000 allocation to the county’s tourism efforts, which was removed from last year’s budget at the start of the pandemic.
The capital improvement plan will be discussed at another time, Town Manager Wyatt Pearson said.
Organization donations include $16,500 to the Strasburg Library, $15,000 to the Strasburg Museum, $35,000 to the fire department and $35,000 to the rescue squad.
The water fund is expected to increase in expenses by about $1.2 million to $3.9 million and result in a $22,447 surplus.
The sewer fund is expected to increase expenses by about $500,000 to about $3.6 million and result in a $530,065 deficit.
The three funds include savings of about $2.6 million in general, $2.9 million in water and $1.1 million in sewer.
Despite the increase in trash collection rates, the trash fund should result in about a $93,582 deficit after expenses are increased by about $3,000 to $437,103. The deficit stems from the town not passing along to residents the cost of tipping fees the trash collection agency incurs from using the county’s refuge center. A reallocation from the general fund is expected to cover the deficit.
Councilman Dane Hooser had presented the idea of increasing the cigarette tax as a way to cover costs for picking up cigarette butts strewn around town. Vice Mayor Ken Cherrix pushed back, saying a “sin tax” would drive people to buy cigarettes in another locality. Mayor Brandy Boise questioned what an actual impact on changing the cigarette tax would result in.
The budget is expected to be finalized in May.
Correction: This story has been updated to show that the $3 minimum bill increase will be applied to sewer fees.