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Holden Beach budget proposes water/sewer rates up, taxes steady

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By Brian Slattery

Holden Beach town manager David Hewett presented a $10.25 million budget at the town board’s regular meeting in town hall June 11.

The tax rate would remain 12.7 cents on every $100 of property valuation on a $1.2 billion tax base.

The tax collection rate is anticipated at 96.7 percent, based on actual collection rate for fiscal year 2012.

The budget would include a $2.4 million operating fund, $4 million water and sewer fund and $2.1 million Beach, Parks, Access and Recreation Tourism (BPART) fund.

North Carolina law requires towns to hold a general fund balance ratio, revenues on hand that represent 30 days of general fund expenses, of 8 percent of the fund balance.

Holden Beach will have a fund balance of $1.13 million, about 47 percent of the general fund balance.

“Forty seven percent certainly complies with the town’s existing fund balance fiscal policy of 25 percent,” said town manager David Hewett.

But Hewett suggested the board review the policy to determine if the ratio is sufficient

Hewett described the “working capital” available to the town—the fund balance minus debts and appropriations required to be paid in 2013-14—as only leaving about 19 percent of the fund budget.

 

Fee increase

Water and sewer rates will increase by 5 cents per thousand gallons of water used to cover the cost of increases in wholesale water and sewer treatment bought from Brunswick County.                

Waste Industries increased the cost of the Blue Can recycling program, which will cause an increase in the expense to residents.

 

Debts to pay

The town will pay $306,373 on the debt for town hall, bringing the balance owed on the building down to $2.6 million. The financing will be paid off in 2026-27.

The town will pay $65,000 into a special revenue fund required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a $1 million loan received in 2009 for the off-island Public Works and Emergency Operations Center.

Debt service of $673,775 will go to the town-wide sewer collection system financing, which will be paid down through 2019-20

Holden Beach’s sewer debt to Brunswick County for the West Brunswick Regional Wastewater Facility financing is $1.17 million.

 

Recommendations

No funding of new positions is requested in the proposed budget, Hewett said.

The budget provides funds to purchase two new Holden Beach Police Department vehicles—extended cab, four-wheel-drive trucks and related equipment. The town procurement procedure allows for purchasing one vehicle outright and lease-purchasing the second vehicle on a three-year schedule.

The town will spend $775,000 on an automated meter-reading system and associated software upgrades and support, and testing of the remaining lifespan of several sections of water line.

Hewett said the board did not choose to address sewer lift station vulnerabilities during budget goals workshop, but he recommends the board address the issue to decide on a risk/reward plan.

He also called for a technical risk/cost-benefit analysis from town staff and engineering consultants.

Hewett did request funds to replace old tax software and provide professional support.

The occupancy tax stays the same—6 percent on gross receipts.

Merit raises of up to 5 percent are proposed. They would be decided by Hewett and department heads.

 

Miscellaneous

The $2.45 million operating budget includes $7,800 in salaries for mayor and commissioners, $264,115 for administration salaries, and $306,275 for police officer salaries.

In the canal subdivisions’ dredging special revenue funds, the budget proposes $94,105 for Holden Beach Harbor based on a $275 per lot annual assessment, $117,394 for Heritage Harbor based on $350 per lot assessment and $634,133 for Harbor Acres based on a $2,225 per lot assessment.

Hewett anticipates an uptick in local sales tax revenue based on building permit activity and construction starts.

 

 

Brian Slattery is a staff writer for The Brunswick Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or bslattery@brunswickbeacon.com.