Smithfield Town Manager Michael Scott released a draft version of his 2016-17 fiscal year budget Monday night. In a workshop, held with members of the town council, Scott’s proposed budget of $12,775,743, is a decrease of $904,355 from the current fiscal year.
The proposal would keep the 57 cents property tax rate unchanged for another year. The tax rate has not been changed since 2003.
Water and sewer rates are expected to increase next year while an electric rate decrease is being considered. An exact amount of the fee changes has not been finalized.
In the general fund, only two new positions out of 12 requested by department heads are included. The police department had requested 4 positions, while only 2 are in the budget and those 2 new positions will be paid for with a grant. The fire department had requested 6 additional employees, general services 1, and the garage 1. Those were not included. However, existing employees would see a 2 percent cost of living increase.
Finance Director Greg Siler said the fund balance remains strong.
Scott’s presentation included “Elephants for Discussion” or projects not funded in his draft proposal where he asked for direction from council members on whether to include them.
Among those items were a $1.5 million multi-year project for a volt conversion for the Brogden Road Substation, $2.5 million for a sewer project, $3.5 million for a water line relocation and construction for Booker Dairy Road, some of which would be refunded by the NC DOT, and resurfacing Venture Drive, which could cost nearly $700,000 based on previous estimates.