- Published on Wednesday, 05 June 2013 23:36
- Written by Super User
The Carolina Beach Town Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed 2013-2014 budget at their upcoming June 11, meeting at 6:30PM at Town Hall.
By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed 2013-2014 budget at their upcoming June 11, meeting at 6:30PM at Town Hall.
The 2013-2014 fiscal year begins July 1 and under state law the Council must adopt a balanced budget by the end of June.
The Council previously held a public hearing in May to take input on the budget proposal. The proposal calls for no property tax or utility fee increases. Interim Town Manager Bruce Shell explained the General Fund budget is balanced at $11,199,164. Property tax rates will remain the at 23.5 cents per $100 of property value. Sales tax projections are increased based on experience. Trash rates will remain the same, mostly due to a recycling grant which pays for most of the increase and helps to pay for new 96-gallon recycling containers to replace the previous 18-gallon containers.
He explained Trash expenditures include an annual increase from Waste Industries, however, increases are absorbed in the proposed budget.
Shell explained that revenues from Freeman Park increased in January from $60 to $100 for the entire year eliminating a previous discount for early purchases of annual permits.
The park permits four wheel drive vehicle access with a daily or annual permit.
He said they anticipate generating more revenue next year and have capped the revenue going into the General Fund at $850,000 with the remainder estimated at $350,000 going into a separate fund for future beach nourishment project funding.
Shell said a fund balance appropriation of $40,462 is recommended to balance the budget as compared to taking $254,444 from reserves to balance the budget for the current year. Also, a contingency fund of $50,000 was factored in to be used at the discretion of Council for expenditures that arise throughout the year.
Shell explained tax revenues generated by Room Occupancy Tax collections is anticipated to increase by $59,000 next fiscal year.
Employees will see a 2 percent merit and 2 percent cost of living pay increase. Health insurance costs will rise by 7.9 percent.
$70,000 has been allocated for improvements to the Town's Recreation Center behind Town Hall. $35,000 is budgeted for fire station improvements and an additional $112,000 is budgeted in debt service for a $1.3 million dollar fire station expansion and renovation project.
The proposed budget also reclassifies the Planning Director position to include Assistant Manager in the title, a permanent Grants Project Manager position and a full year School Resource Officer within the Police Department to serve at the Carolina Beach Elementary School. Also, two new positions within the Fire Department. Those fire positions will focus on improved response times with less pressure on limited volunteers. The vacant Human Resources Director position is funded in the proposed budget but currently on hold pending additional review.
$20,000 is included for Boardwalk maintenance to be taken over by Town employees.
$10,000 is budgeted for electronic agendas and streaming live video of meetings on the Town's website.
Shell explained, "I am proposing a change in the budget structure creating a non-departmental account as well as budgeting debt service in one rather than multiple accounts" to make it easier to track the Town's debt service.
He explained, "A community pool, currently under feasibility analysis, will be evaluated separately from this budget."
Under the separate Utility Fund, Shell explained, "The enterprise fund is not supported by tax dollars but rather by rates. The fund includes water, sewer, wastewater and storm water operations. The Utility Fund is balanced at $5,241,945.
A rate increase is not included in this budget. As discussed in the General Fund, a larger transfer is anticipated from the Utility Fund to the General Fund based upon an indirect cost analysis."
The indirect cost analysis provides for a transfer of $459,692 from the Utility Fund for services provided by the General Fund. This is an increase over the $300,000 transfer in fiscal year 2012-2013" and will be audited at the end of fiscal year 2014.
The indirect cost analysis focused on what portions of Town Hall operations are used to service operations within the Utility Fund.
Shell explained, "I have increased budgeted utility revenues due to billing and meter installation enhancements. Additional revenue enhancements are anticipated once the automated meter project is completed."
The Town is working on a project to replace customers water meters to meters that can be read from Town Hall and are more accurate than older meters. Increased accuracy is expected to generate increased revenues without raising rates.
Shell explained, "Analysis of billing records is on-going and will reflect continued
enhancement of revenue generation as well.
Results of these studies will be provided to the Council in the near future. The automated meter project is ready as we await zero interest federal funding... expected to save the Town over $200,000 over a ten-year period.
He explained, "The secondary sewer force main project, estimated at $900,000 is underway as surveying work has begun. Additional water and sewer projects will be presented at the June 11, 2013 meeting for Council consideration and possible funding."
Those include replacing old water and sewer lines throughout the residential areas of Town to improve water quality and reduce rainwater infiltration into the sewer system. All projects in total are estimated to cost approximately $15 million dollars. The Council hopes to begin a first phase starting in the fall of this year.
Shell explained, "I have included a "Utilities Director and Capital Projects" position in this budget as well. This position should provide direct guidance to the Manager and Council as well as guidance to the staff. The current director
will accept an Assistant Director position and
will assist the Director with operations and capital projects as the Town moves forward towards implementation."
He explained, "These projects will be presented to the Council on a case-by-case basis outlining the benefits, costs, and impacts. A rate increase is not anticipated at this time. .
Shell explained, "I reviewed capital outlay with the Department Head Committee. I have recommended funding of water and sewer equipment requests but have not supported all of the vehicle replacement requests. I do not recommend financing the purchase of assets with a short life. Certainly, when budgets are tight there are times when this cannot be avoided. I support a pay as you go approach on the purchase of vehicles."
He explained, "The Town enjoys a strong fund balance in the General and Utility Funds. Future grants, projects and other opportunities are many but are not included in this budget." The Town has a reserve fund in the General Fund of just over $5.7 million projected by the end of this fiscal year.
For the Utility Fund, the reserve is a little over $5.7 million. The Stormwater Fund also has a reserve around $300,000.
The proposed budget is available on the Town's website at www.carolinabeach.org as well as in printed form at Town Hall and the Public Library on Cape Fear Blvd.