Budget will not require tax hike

Published 6:20 pm Tuesday, April 10, 2018

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

No tax increases, a water rate hike, a 2 percent wage increase and a significant savings in trash dumping fees are some of the highlights for the proposed fiscal 2019 Isle of Wight County operating budget. 

The $74 million operating budget is up $2 million from the fiscal 2018 adopted budget, an increase that reflects increased revenues and cost savings. 

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Isle of Wight water customers can expect a 5 percent increase in water rates, a change that is lower than the 9.5 percent multi-year increases proposed in a 2015 rate study, according to Isle of Wight County Administrator Randy Keaton. 

The rate hike is to balance the need for the county to decrease the subsidy of its water and sewer system with what is affordable for its residents, said Keaton. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

The proposed 5 percent increase follows an identical increase last year.

Water customers currently pay $10.16 per 1,000 gallons for up to 50,000 on a bimonthly rate. 

By comparison, Smithfield residents pay $5.85 per 1,000 used, while Windsor residents pay $7 per 1,000 gallons on a bimonthly basis. 

Isle of Wight will save $1 million from decreased SPSA tipping fees and a change in the county’s generator maintenance program. 

SPSA fees dropped from $121 a ton to $62 a ton to save $810,000, and the county dropped an expensive generator maintenance agreement in exchange for doing it in-house for a savings of $235,000. 

Revenues are up, in part, due to increased housing starts and truck prices, which led to an increase in personal property tax revenues. A slight increase in property assessments, as well as machinery and tools tax revenues, have also contributed, according to Keaton.

The proposed fiscal 2019 budget includes $994,300 for schools, down from the School Board’s request of $1.09 million. 

Already built into the budget is $715,830 in debt service to fund the division’s new Career and Technical Education program.  

The county’s debt service payments are up $2.16 million, a hike anticipated after a debt restructuring a few years ago, according to Keaton. Debt service payments are expected to plateau after fiscal 2019 unless new debt is acquired, according to Keaton. 

The proposed budget includes a 2 percent pay increase for employees, as well as a 1 percent performance increase. At the same time, the cost of the county’s health plan has increased by 5 percent and those will be reflected in employee premiums, according to Keaton.

The Isle of Wight Sheriff’s Office is scheduled to lease eight new vehicles, and the budget also includes seven new county vehicles. Keaton proposes two new positions in finance and human resources, to begin in January 2019, as well as upgrading the part-time tourism manager position to full-time. 

Isle of Wight County Sheriff James Clarke has requested a full-time School Resource Officer for Georgie D. Tyler Middle School.

The budget request of $75,000 was not included in the proposed budget as it was received on April 4, said Keaton. 

The Board of Supervisors will have two more work sessions on April 12 and 17, 6 p.m., followed by a public hearing at its regular meeting, Thursday, April 19, 6 p.m.  {/mprestriction}