By Jesse Wood
Town Manager John Ward released his recommended budget for the Town of Boone for fiscal year 2015-16.
While the Boone Town Council raised property taxes five cents last year, the recommended budget for the upcoming year features no property tax increase. Currently, the property tax rate stands at $0.41 cents per $100 valuation.
The $26-million budget features a 4.35 percent decrease in the general fund compared to the current budget of 2014-15. The budget funds the following:
- General Fund: $15,044,836
Insurance Fund: $1,766,500
Municipal Service District: $164,999
Rural Fire Service District: $1,082,085
In his budget message to the Boone Town Council, Ward noted other highlights of this recommended budget:
- Maintains current service levels
- Provides funding for additional police
- Provides funding for the Howard Street project
- Provides funding for additions to the downtown streetscape
As for the sales tax revenue, which represents 16 percent of the general fund budget, Ward said that the town will “continue to be subject to the county’s decision” to redistribute the sales tax in an ad valorem method. When the county voted to redistribute the sales tax in 2013, the then-Town Manager Greg Young said that the town lost $1.7 million of sales tax revenue.
Parking revenue is expected to increase by $156,000 because of the implementation of metered parking, however Ward’s budget message mentions that this windfall will be offset by additional costs for general maintenance, service contracts and credit card transactions for the meters.
Based on Boone Town Council priorities, Ward also allotted $1 million for the Howard Street improvement project; $200,000 for paving town streets; $115,631 for outside agencies; $20,000 for sidewalks; and $75,000 for downtown streetscape.
The council hasn’t yet decided on how it would distribute the outside agency funding, which totals the same as last year.
The budget includes funding for an additional patrol officer, which Boone Police Chief Dana Crawford said was needed after many years of not adding to the police force.
An additional charge of a combined $1.50 cents per month for water and sewer minimums per tier is “necessary to fully fund the anticipated annual debt service for the raw water intake project along the South Fork of the New River,” according to the budget message.
As Ward noted, the budget document is expected to evolve over the next several weeks as the Boone Town Council continues to make adjustments to the recommended budget. The council will hold budget workshops on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 26 and 27, beginning at 8:30 a.m. in the Council Chambers.
On Thursday, June 18, the Boone Town Council will hold a public hearing to listen to comments from citizens before adopting the budget.
To view the entire budget, click here.
Correction: This article previously stated that the funding for outside agencies in the recommended budget for 2015-16 is the same as the current year’s budget. While the combined funding recommended is the same, the council hasn’t yet decided how it will distribute the funding.