Benson’s Board of Commissioners discussed the 2016-2017 proposed budget during its last meeting in May Tuesday night.
Town Manager Matt Zapp presented his notes on the numbers and addressed questions from the board, presenting a largely completed overview of the upcoming fiscal year.
This year’s budget continues to reflect electric rate savings from the agreement between Duke Energy and the North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency (NCEMPA) to purchase the generating assets of 32 communities including Benson late last year.
In addition, the town has focused on the installation of “smart” technologically advanced water and electric meters over the past year — another factor in lowering and maintaining utility rates, officials said.
Benson’s proposed budget for 2016-2017 is approximately $10.8 million — similar to last year’s approved total. The proposed budget total reflects no change in the town’s municipal tax rate, water or sewer rates.
Trash Collection, General Fund
Waste Industries — the company the town contracts with for trash and debris collection — is expected to increase service fees, thus a 3 percent adjustment is included.
The current trash and recycling fee is $22.66 per month, the proposed increase is $23.34 per month. However, the increased rate would not be implemented until Jan. 1, 2017.
The expected property valuation for the 2016-2017 fiscal year is approximately $298 million. The town’s tax rate remains at 53 cents per $100 valuation, the same as last year’s rate.
Regarding General Fund revenues, three payments in lieu of taxes are reflected in the numbers — $9,000 for the Benson Housing Authority, $12,970 for the Electric Fund and $75,030 for the Water and Sewer Fund.
Water And Sewer
Water and sewer rates were suggested to remain stagnate for the 2016-2017 fiscal year — a $10 base charge and $4.29 per 1000 gallons for customers inside Benson town limits and a $12 base charge and $6.93 per 1000 gallons for those outside town limits.
Benson’s base sewer rates are currently $10 for those inside town limits and $12 for residents outside town limits. The per-gallon sewer rate is $5.29 per 1,000 gallons inside town limits and $8.96 per 1,000 gallons outside.
‘Large Ticket Items’
Three “large ticket” items were included in the General Fund calculation for the upcoming budget, noted Mr. Zapp.
A total of $155,000 in fund balance was factored to balance the draft budget — some of those items found within the numbers include $65,000 for repair of the Benson Parks and Recreation Department roof, $30,000 for a truck for the Benson Police Department and $55,000 for radio conversion for the police department.
Benson’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year includes one fulltime firefighter position. The budget also includes authorization to provide town employees with a merit pay adjustment (0-5 percent) based on individual performance.
The proposed Electric Fund budget is $4,421,300 — a decrease of $188,732 over fiscal year 2016. The reduction is “a result of the Duke Energy and NCEMPA asset merger,” notes Mr. Zapp.
The required public hearing for the budget has been scheduled for June 14, however, the process can be extended until June 30 if needed. Courtesy The Daily Record