Spencer views $3.2 million recommended budget

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 15, 2020

By Carl Blankenship

SPENCER– Aldermen got their first look at the town administration’s recommended $3.2 million budget at the board’s regular meeting on Tuesday night.

The budget allocates funds from its revenue streams, which includes sales and property taxes, as well as a $224,194 appropriation from the town’s fund balance. The budget is based on a .655 property tax rate and includes an anticipated 10% increase for insurance costs.

Interim Town Manager David Treme noted the town saved on insurance last year and it is uncertain how much costs will increase. Included in the budget are 1% base-salary longevity bonuses for employees and $250 end-of-year bonuses. Town Budget Officer John Sofley said the increase estimate was based on bids received last year

The budget message noted COVID-19 is expected to reduce income from sales tax by 15% for the first three months of the 2020-2021 fiscal year and 5% for the remaining months in the calendar year, adding up to an anticipated loss of  $53,747 of revenue.

Sofley noted there could be a bounce back and a lower loss than expected.

“We could be surprised,” Sofley said.

Department costs are mostly up in the proposed budget, which requires an inspection period and a public hearing before it can be adopted by the board.

Administration costs increased by $23,773, to $556,992. The increases were attributed to personnel and funding for items related to the town’s new municipal complex.

The town’s police department budget increased by $14,266, and the $1.13 million department budget has funding to replace three patrol cars with police model Dodge Durangos for $126,750. There is also some funding for two new vehicle cameras.

The fire department’s budget increased by $29,196, to $345,891. There is $14,688 set aside as as one part of a total $23,511 to be paid in a two-year period to replace the department’s portable extrication tools, which are more than 25-years-old.

Treme also noted the town should look at replacing a 1995 truck in the next three years.

The recommended budget for the town’s public works department decreased by $35,173, to $834,023. There are some items that increased, including a $30,000 purchase of a new pickup truck, $4,000 for installing a new heater and $10,700 to purchase new mowers.

Streets department expenditures are projected to be $451,609, solid waste to be $382,415, land management to be $162,863. The town’s library will receive $36,221. There is $14,876 for recreation.

Mayor Jonathan Williams asked the town administration to come up with a projection of fund balance going into the new fiscal year for the town’s budget workshop. Treme noted the town is not concerned about meeting the 8% recommended minimum fund balance set out by the state.

The budget message included $197,146 in Powell Bill funding, which helps municipalities maintain street infrastructure. It was accounted for separately from other revenues and expenditures.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

email author More by Carl