Shallotte approves budget that keeps same tax rate, increases water fees

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

SHALLOTTE—Aldermen have approved the town budget for fiscal year 2008-2009, holding the property tax rate at 27 cents per $100 valuation of property but increasing the water rates to keep up with the county’s increases and adopting a tiered water rate system.

No town residents turned out for Tuesday night’s public hearing on the budget proposal, and town administrator Paul Sabiston explained the proposed budget to the board.

The budget includes a 20.8 percent increase in tax valuation over the current year.

The water rate is proposed to increase from $4.56 per 1,000 gallons to $4.73 per 1,000 gallons to cover the county’s .17 percent increase, according to Sabiston.

The new tiered water rate schedule increases the fees based on usage. Sabiston said the average use per household is 6,000 gallons per day, but in the new schedule, the fee will remain at $4.73 per 1,000 gallons until the house uses more than 10,000 gallons per day, at which point the base charge increases to $5.69 per 1,000 gallons per day. At more than 20,000, the charge increases to $5.93, and so on.

The service charge will remain at $2 per month per customer.

The in-town sewer rate will remain at $49.18 per billing cycle (60 days) of the first 6,000 gallons of use and $7.03 per 1,000 gallons over the initial 6,000 up to 10,000 gallons.

The town will raise its capital recovery fees for sewer, according to Sabiston’s proposal. For a residential unit, the fee will go from a minimum of $2,700 for a three-bedroom, two-bath home to $3,000.

Sabiston told the board Tuesday that 2008-2009 is the first budget year the town will feel “the brunt” of the regular payments for the new fire station and police station, but the budget also seems somewhat small due to one-time costs in the 2007-2008 budget including a new fire truck.

Over the past several years, the general fund budget has risen about 15 percent every year, according to Sabiston, but this year, the increase is only 2 percent, a result of exceeding the 15 percent last year due to the construction of the main fire station, purchase of a new fire vehicle and construction of a police facility.

“In the past, the town has managed to keep its annual cost under control by continuing to follow the ‘pay as you go’ policy used by the board whenever feasible,” Sabiston said. “This year will continue that trend with new purchases.”

The $4 million general fund budget represents an expected “tight” budget year, according to Sabiston’s budget message, due to the slow economy.

“Rising operational costs and capital projects make it very important that we look to the future and continue to strengthen our fund balance and create capital reserves for some of the upcoming projects,” Sabiston stated.

sarah shew wilson is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or swilson@brunswickbeacon.com.