Salisbury passes budget with 1.2 cent tax increase

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 23, 2016

Amanda Raymond

SALISBURY — The Salisbury City Council approved the fiscal year 2016-17 budget at Tuesday’s meeting with a 1.2-cent property tax increase.

The current property tax rate is 66 cents per $100 of valuation. The new tax rate for the fiscal year, starting on July 1, will be 67.2 cents per $100 of valuation. The increase is expected to bring in more than $330,000 in additional general fund revenue.

At a meeting on May 17, City Manager Lane Bailey explained that the city lost a privilege license tax last year for the current fiscal year. The loss of revenue accounted for $320,000, or 1.18 cents on the property tax rate.

Funds from the city’s fund balance were used to cover the loss revenue for the current fiscal year, but Bailey said the city cannot keep replacing the reccurring revenue with funds from the fund balance every year.

The general fund totals about $40.8 million, an increase from about $40.2 million last year. From that fund, about $1.2 million will be used for one-time expenses, including $550,000 for Newsome Road extension (to be reimbursed by 2020), $300,000 for the design, land acquisition and site preparation for Fire Station 6, and $330,000 for a roof for the Head Start building.

Funds will be used from the general fund for a sidewalk project at Klumac Road and grant funding will be used for sidewalk projects at Old Concord Road. A combination of funds from the general fund and grants will be used for sidewalk projects at the former Salisbury Mall, Newsome Road, Bringle Ferry Road and Main Street.

There is also $100,000 budgeted for the housing stabilization program and $100,000 for the Dixonville Cemetery.

Items for different departments will be paid for with funds from the general fund capital replacement fund, including about $1.5 million for a 2000 platform ladder truck for the fire department.

The water and sewer fund totals $23.1 million. There is a 2.5 percent water and sewer rate increase for customers. For the average monthly residential water and sewer utility bill, the use of 5,000 gallons would increase by .05 cents per day.

The total budget for the Fibrant Communications Fund will be about $9.3 million. According to Bailey, Fibrant is estimated to cost the general fund $3.5 million for the current fiscal year. The budget for the upcoming fiscal year will reduce the cost to $2.9 million.

During the meeting, Councilman David Post made a few comments about Fibrant.

“It’s just important to say publicly that Fibrant drives the city, it drives the budget,” he said.

He said Fibrant needs to be run like a business, and there are plenty of people in Salisbury who have the experience to help.

“We have the talent in Salisbury to do it,” he said.

Post talked about developing a business plan for Fibrant and figuring out marketing to bring in more customers, especially the population 65 years old and older.

He also said that in a capital improvement plan workshop, it was projected that Fibrant would lose about $3.2 million, or about $10,000 a day, for the next 10 years. He said the city is working to stop that from happening.

Post said everyone has to stay vigilant about what is going on with Fibrant and he commended Bailey for putting all of the Fibrant fund information in one place.

He said Fibrant is better than any other service, and citizens are paying twice if they don’t have it.

“Everybody in Salisbury who does not use Fibrant is paying twice because you’re not only paying Time Warner or AT&T, but you’re chipping in every single day to hold Fibrant up,” he said.

He finished by saying if the market share was increased to 35 percent, Fibrant would break even and cover the debt service.

“We’ve got to get there,” he said. “We can do it. We have the talent in Salisbury.”

The council approved the budget unanimously.

Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.