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Public hearing set for Smithfield budget

The town of Smithfield will hold a public hearing on its proposed 2021-2022 budget June 1 at 6:30 p.m. in The Smithfield Center’s Town Council chambers.

No tax or fee increases are proposed.

The general fund portion totals $9.4 million, a roughly $500,000 drop from the current year’s general fund budget of $9.9 million. There’s an additional $1.2 million allocated for the town’s highway fund, $1.9 million for its sewer fund and $3 million for its water fund, bringing the total proposed budget to $15.8 million.

According to Town Manager Michael Stallings, the largest causes for the general fund decrease are a reduction in state and federal grants due to the town’s nearing completion of its Pinewood Heights project, and a reduction in the amount of reserves the town plans to use to balance its upcoming budget. The Pinewood Heights project involves relocating residents of the Pinewood Heights neighborhood behind Smithfield Foods’ meatpacking plant in preparation for turning the area into a town-owned industrial park.

Last year, fearing a budget shortfall from COVID-19 impacts, the town eliminated recycling from its budget and imposed a $6.01-per-month fee for curbside trash collection, the cost for which had previously been covered by the town taxes residents already pay. While the town’s budget woes proved not as dire as initially predicted, the town isn’t planning any reduction to the fee or reinstating recycling, Stallings said.