Boonville Town Commissioners have come to an agreement on the town’s budget and will hold a public hearing at their May 7 meeting.
The budget has slimmed down from $1.4 million in FY 2012 to $1.29 million in FY 2013.
“We’re like everybody else,” said Mayor Rusty Hunter. “We don’t have enough of a tax base to bring in a lot of money, and we’re trying to present a budget without increasing taxes on our residents. Honestly, unless you make a big increase it doesn’t help much.”
Hunter said that the town had to get creative in order to trim down the budget without raising the citizens’ taxes. The commissioners achieved this through planning ahead and asking the department heads to prepare their own budget proposals.
“Last year we needed a new vehicle. We needed little equipment like weed eaters and lawn mowers,” Hunter said. “We didn’t have a lot of that this year. The only capital improvement of any significance that we have this year is $10,000 for another police car. We’ve done that over a three-year process. We budgeted $10,000 last year, and we’ll budget another $10,000 next year. That allows us to save as we go instead of having to throw $30,000 into one budget.”
Another way the town is working to cut its budget is by issuing the first water rate hike in years.
Hunter said that Boonville has had some of the cheapest water rates in the area for quite some time and that a rate increase would be acceptable if the town wasn’t in need of further improvement.
“We’ve not been subsidizing, but we’ve been using $125,00 to $150,000 of general fund money on average to pay for water and sewer rates in the town. And that’s because our water and sewer rates aren’t right,” Hunter said. “We have created a new rate scale where the consumers are going to pay for the water that they use.”
Hunter said that residents that use consistently small amounts of water will not see a significant change but larger families and companies that are functioning on higher water consumption will see a small jump in their bill as well as out of town customers.
Another cost that affected Boonville’s budget this year is the increase in insurance rates for town employees. Hunter said that Kim Wells, Boonville’s Town Clerk and Finance Officer, looked into their current insurance coverage with the League of Municipalities and learned that there may be more cost efficient opportunities elsewhere.
“Kim started searching around and talking to some of our peers and learned that a lot of municipalities have gotten away from the League and sought private insurance because it’s much cheaper,” Hunter said. “Life Source in Elkin has some of our insurance on vehicles and property. We researched their rates on health care and learned we could potentially insure our employees with the same benefits they have now and potentially save about $70,000 a year.”
The Town of Boonville will also be issuing a cut to Boonville Public Library funding this year. The library staff requested $5,400. Commissioners noted that the town currently owns the building that the library is operating out of and does not receive a rent payment for it and must maintain the property.
Commissioners said that the library will require a Terminix visit this year that will cost the town $1,200 and approximately $3,800 in interior painting touch ups, window, porch and gutter repairs.
“The building costs are too high to continue giving money in the budget each year,” said Hunter.
The board voted that it would provide the library with $2,500, about half of its budget request, and would suggest that the Friends of the Library organization consider purchasing the building from the town and taking on building maintenance if they would like to see further funding in the future.
Hunter said that overall this year’s budget process was one the smoothest the town has encountered. He credits that to a group of understanding and fiscally responsible department heads and a board that’s willing to work hard to get the job done.
“This was a different budget workshop than we’ve ever had,” Hunter said. “When I came on the board these things lasted six days. I made it my goal when I became the mayor to cut it down to two days. I thought it was useless.
“The department heads were able to look at their budget and say they don’t need certain items right now and that they could wait,” Hunter continued. “They made cuts themselves. The board members never had to cut anybody on anything. They did the fiscally responsible things themselves.”
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at email@example.com.