WOODSTOCK - Woodstock administrators introduced a trimmed down fiscal year 2020 budget at Thursday night's work session of the finance committee meeting.
Town manager Angela Clem unveiled the proposed fiscal year 2020 $12,502,993 million total budget. This is a decrease of $679,487 from this years 2019 fiscal year budget of $13,182,480.
"I feel we are being very conservative with this budget to have a minimal impact on residents," Clem said before the meeting.
The town's budget is reflective of the town's overall five-year strategic plan.
Part of that strategic plan states one part is to link valuable neighborhood amenities while another part of the plan states the town is to ensure Woodstock is a beautiful place to live, work and visit.
One project in the budget that Clem is excited about showcases those philosophies is the town's Bicycle and Pedestrian Trails project.
The master plan for the Woodstock loop trails provides 10.8 miles of paths and trails connecting Woodstock residents and visitors to neighborhood parks, schools, and the historic downtown without having to get in a car.
It is made up of a combination of existing sidewalks, proposed sidewalks, proposed bicycle boulevards, proposed shared use paths, proposed sidepath, and proposed bike lanes with sidewalks.
"It is a quality of life component which should help with economic development," Clem said.
The first phase of the town's Bicycle and Pedestrian Trails is estimated at $1 million.
After the meeting and the presentation explaining the budget, finance committee members commended Clem on the budget that they said was well thought out and forward thinking.
The budget includes a $7,842,675 general fund projection and $4,660,318 for the utility fund.
It is expected that there will be a utility rate increase.
The rate for using less than 2,500 gallons will increase $1.50 a month from the current rate of $26.90 to $28.40. For the next 47,500 gallons, the rate will increase .10 cents from the current rate of $9.39 to $9.49. For the next 50,000 gallons after that the rate will increase .10 cents from $8.98 to $9.08. For water use over 100,000 gallons, the rate will increase .10 cents from the current rate of $8.52 to $8.62.
There has not been a utility rate increase since 2016 for the fiscal year 2017 budget.
The rate increase is necessary due to upcoming capital investments in public utilities to begin building a reserve.
It is projected this would raise $63,000 toward the reserve for capital projects.
The town is anticipating taking in about $1.29 million in general property tax, $2.81 million in other local taxes, and $1.09 million in state revenues, as well as other smaller lines of revenue.
Most of the decrease in the proposed budget is a decrease in the expenses of the town.
Some departmental requests and all staffing requests were not filled, Clem said.
The biggest anticipated expenses to the town are $2,067,113 for the Public Safety Department, which is the police and fire departments, and $1,871,976 for the Public Works Department, responsible for maintaining the town's infrastructure.
The budget includes a 3 percent salary increase. The raise has an impact of $80,86 on the general fund budget.
The town did not incur an increase in the health insurance plan.
One of the utility initiatives for the fiscal year 2020 would include $450,000 for the Route 42 Waterline Boring Project under Interstate I-81.
A 60-year-old 8-inch high-pressure water line hangs under Route 42, over Interstate 81.
Clem said the waterline has broken three times in the last two years.
This results in safety issues.
"When this waterline breaks, it is difficult to repair and requires our staff to be in bucket trucks on the interstate median or shoulder," Clem said.
Replacing the waterline using a trenchless technology under the interstate is the Virginia Department of Transportation's preferred method. The town is allocating funding toward engineering and installation of a new waterline that will be sleeved, the sleeve will protect the roadway above from future breaks of leaks, Clem said.
Clem stressed the work would not disrupt travel.
Another utility initiative would be to research replacement and financing of the Waste Water Treatment Plant Membrane Filtration System, which is scheduled to occur in two years.
Some more expenses are regarding town vehicles.
The Waste Water Treatment plant is also asking to replace a 2007 Ford Escape of which $25,000 is being budgeted for.
The purchase of a forklift for $20,500.
The planned replacement of two police vehicles and the purchase of another police vehicle at $42,415 each.
Town officials will hold a public hearing on the budget May 7. They will continue to work on the proposed budget until the June 4 town council meeting at which council members will vote whether or not to approve it.