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Tuesday Public Hearing on Blowing Rock’s Budget That Calls for Tax & Fee Increases

To help fund general obligation bond projects approved by the voters in 2014 and to invest in the facilities and staff members who deliver the high quality service levels every day to the citizens of Blowing Rock, the recommended budget for fiscal year 2015-16 is calling for increased revenues.

The Blowing Rock Town Council will hold a public hearing and will vote on the budget at its meeting on Tuesday, June 9.

Officially presented at the council’s May 12th meeting, the Recommended Budget includes a mix of tax and fee increases to help raise revenues to fund the upcoming budget.  The recommended tax rate includes an increase of 3.0 cents, resulting in a tax rate of 34.0 cents per $100, an increase of 9.6 percent.  This increase would result in an additional annual tax amount owed of $150 per year for a home valued at $500,000, or $30 annually for each $100,000 of assessed taxable value.

In terms of utility rates, the customer demand for water has been gradually declining over the past decade and the utility customer base has remained fairly steady, offering fewer gallons among which to spread the largely fixed costs of providing dependable water and sewer services.

To help ensure the system is able to recover its costs and not be subsidized by tax revenues when absorbing debt service costs associated with the water and sewer capital improvements planned, a $2.00 base increase for both water and sewer is being recommended along with a $0.25 increase in the per thousand gallon rate for gallons consumed greater than 5,000 per two month billing period.  These impacts are expected to increase a typical customer’s bill by 5 percent in the coming year.

With the average annual tax base growth of 0.8 percent over the last 8 years, and inflation having crept forward an average of 2.4 percent per year over that same time period, it has become increasingly difficult to afford operating cost increases including those necessary to attract and retain the staff members that are so critical to consistently provide the high service levels our citizens expect and deserve.

The recommended budget totals $13.6 million including $6.9 million for the general government activities, $1.7 million for the water and sewer operations, and $5 million for capital projects.  Included in the capital budget for the coming year is the first implementation phase of the $13 million general obligation bonds that were approved by an average of 77 percent of Town of Blowing Rock voters on Nov. 4, 2014.  Included in the recommended budget is $4.6 million of the $13 million total to fund work on a host of projects for transportation ($3 million), parks ($440,000), water ($471,000) and sewer ($665,000).

A printed copy is available for public inspection in Town Hall, located at 1036 Main Street, Blowing Rock,  NC. A copy is also available for viewing on the Town’s website at www.townofblowingrock.com.

The Town Council will hold a public hearing on the Recommended Budget during the Council meeting on Tuesday, June 9, at the Town Council Chambers in Town Hall. The Town Council is scheduled to consider adoption of the Recommended Budget along with any changes approved by Council at the Council meeting on Tuesday, June 9.