Water, garbage collection also increasing
By Tom Woerner
Dunn Daily Record
BENSON – The cost of owning property in Benson is going up after the town narrowly approved a 4 cent property tax increase Tuesday night.
The board approved the new fiscal year budget for 2023-24 with a 3-2 vote, with Commissioners Maxine Holley and Max Raynor objecting and voting against the spending plan. The rate will now be 59 cents per $100 property valuation. A portion of that number, 12 cents, is because of the town’s fire tax.
Town Manager Kimberly Pickett said the move was a necessity.
“We have to increase the tax rate if we are going to keep up with the services we provide,” Pickett said. “We are facing the question of whether we raise taxes or we decrease the services we are providing.”
She said in her budget message to commissioners that the increase is also due to the “increased cost of doing daily business and the demands of running a local entity.”
The property tax rate in Benson has not increased since 2006. That move, an increase of 6 cents, was made because the town’s fund balance was approaching unacceptable levels based on state standards.
Pickett estimates the increase will generate $125,000 for the town. The total spending plan approved Tuesday is approximately $15.7 million.
Holley expressed her reluctance before voting against the plan.
“I am not in favor of raising taxes but we do what we have to do,” Holley said.
Taxes aren’t the only thing going up. Benson residents will see water rates going up by 14 percent and there will be an additional 4 percent increase to the refuse collection rate.
Town employees could benefit from the new budget with up to 5 percent salary increases for employees, based on job performance.
In other action, the town swore in a new police officer, with Dwight Whitaker officially joining the force in a brief ceremony.
In a consent agenda item, the board approved paying the expenses of Commissioner William Neighbors for his trip to the International Council of Shopping Centers, or ICSC convention, in Las Vegas.
Benson Town Public Information Officer Tyler Douglas said the town has been represented at the convention for several years, with the organization being focused on economic development.