STRASBURG – Town Manager Wyatt Pearson said he does not anticipate any tax increases this year.
Pearson introduced the town’s proposed budget requests Thursday night to council members.
Members heard about what requests have been made for this year's budget and what the town is anticipating doing in 2020.
Town officials have not yet calculated a budget dollar amount, Pearson said, adding that they want to introduce what is being requested first to allow council members to understand better when they hear the fiscal year 2020 budget amount during a March 18 meeting. They will review the draft budget at that meeting.
“We are excited about the budget,” Pearson said, noting that it should be a manageable budget that should still allow for the town to move forward in meeting its needs.
This year's fiscal budget is $14,778,774.
Officials say they do not plan to change the tax rate, according to Pearson. The real estate tax will remain at 16 cents per $100 of assessed value. The personal property tax will remain at $1.11 per $100. Meals and lodging taxes will remain at 6 percent.
The town is anticipating a 6.7 percent growth in meals tax collections, with $730,000 expected this fiscal year. Town officials are anticipating that to increase to $778,973 for the fiscal year 2020, an increase of $48,973.
That growth projection is based on the opening of several new businesses, including Box Office Brewery, Pearson said.
They are also projecting a 15.3 percent growth in lodging tax and a 13.7 percent growth in sales tax.
Lodging for 2019 is expected to bring in $178,000. Officials are projecting lodging tax for 2020 at $204,945, or an increase of $26,945. The sales tax is projected for 2020 to come in at $398,000, an increase of $48,000 from 2019’s projected $350,000.
The town will use some of that growth for a 3 percent cost of living increase in salary for town employees. That increase will cost the town an additional $88,096 in salary.
The town’s police department has requested to add two part-time employees. One would be a part-time officer to assist with zoning and code enforcement. There also would be an administrative position to help with the police department accreditation process.
The Public Works Department is also looking to a full-time and a part-time grounds crew employee. The department will be taking on additional maintenance activities with streetscape, construction and additional park improvements.
Strasburg had no increase to the town’s health insurance, so employee rates will remain the same.
The budget does call for increasing water and sewer rates. It suggests a 2 percent increase in the water rate and a 7 percent increase in the sewer rate based on a five-year plan.
The budget timeline also calls for an April 15 review of capital projects, an April 29 budget work session if needed. A public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled for May 14, with final budget adoption on June 11.