By Jesse Wood
The Blowing Rock Town Council will hold a public hearing before adopting the fiscal-year 2017-18 budget on Tuesday, June 13. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. and takes place at Town Hall on Main Street.
The recommended budget, which includes a proposed increase on taxes and water and utility rates, remains the same after the Blowing Rock Town Council met for budget retreats and workshops, according to Town Manager Ed Evans.
The proposed budget includes a 3-cent tax increase on property. This 3-cent increase is expected to generate $4.1 million dollars and equates to about a $150 increase on a $500,000.
The proposed budget totals $14.52 million for all town operations, capital improvements and debt payments. This represents a steep increase of the current fiscal year budget of $5.26 million.
Rising to 37 cents per $100 valuation, Blowing Rock’s proposed increase represents a 9 percent increase over the current rate of 34 cents. In recent memory, the property tax rate held steady from 2006 to 2013 at 28 cents. Since then, council has raised rates three times, according to a spreadsheet from the Watauga County Tax Administration.
But even with the increases, Blowing Rock’s tax base has remained relatively flat for the past decade. After the most recent revaluation in 2014-15, the overall tax base decreased 4.5 percent, according to the town manager’s budget message.
“The tax and utility rate increases are necessary to help pay for the voter approved 2014 general obligation bond debt for capital projects as well as increased staffing support for administering the bond projects and grants, landscaping growth including taking over responsibility for U.S. 321, many stone/rock infrastructure repairs throughout town, as well as full-time funding to help ensure our Fire Department can respond to the growing number of calls for service,” the message reads.
In 2014, roughly 75 percent of Blowing Rock residents voted in favor of the general obligation bonds for water and sewer systems, streets and sidewalks, and parks and recreation.
Earlier this week, the Watauga County Board of Commissioners increased its property taxes by 4 cents per $100 valuation.
View Blowing Rock’s proposed budget here.