SMITHFIELD – Smithfield residents will pay slightly higher fees for electricity, water, and garbage collection in the newly adopted 2023-2024 fiscal year budget. The Town Council adopted the budget June 6 in a 6-to-0 vote.
The 57 cents per $100 valuation property tax rate will remain unchanged during the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2023. Electric fees will increase an average of two percent, water fees by about 4 percent, and garbage collection about 11 cents a month. Sewer rates may be adjusted later this year, depending upon the amount of increase the County passes along to the Town for treatment cost.
The spending plan does not include the hiring of any new town employees, but gives existing employees a two percent salary increase on July 1, up to a 2 percent Merit increase on Jan. 1, 2024, and Longevity for employees with at least 5 years of continuous service to the Town. The budget includes additional funds to maintain Medical Employee Benefits at the same level.
Funds are included to purchase two new police cars; $300,000 or 1/3 of the cost of a $900,000 fire engine, with an expected delivery in 2027; $105,000 for new fire department turnout gear; $77,500 for new extrication tools and fire hose; $289,593 for annual street resurfacing; $300,000 for a new sanitation truck; $17,000 for a new 61 inch mower; $75,000 for American Legion Hut repairs; $30,500 for Dog Park lights, shelter and cement; $18,500 for Soccer Field drainage repairs; $75,900 for Pool and Splash Pad resurfacing; $450,000 to extend water lines east of I-95 for future development; $200,000 for miscellaneous water line upgrades throughout town; and $400,000 in the Electric Department budget towards the continuance of Voltage Conversion.
Town Manager Mike Scott said the Fund Balance remains high for the General, Electric, and Water/Sewer departments, and sales tax revenue continues to increase each year.
Mr. Scott said 45 percent of the budget goes to Public Safety, 22 percent towards Public Works, 15 percent to Parks and Recreation, and 3 percent toward debt repayment.
In a motion by Councilman Travis Scott and seconded by Councilman David Barbour, the budget passed with a unanimous vote.