The members of the Kinston City Council reviewed the latest version of the city’s $99.3 million budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year this week.
The budget was presented for a public hearing during the council’s meeting on Monday although no citizen or resident spoke for or against it.
City leaders did not vote on the budget, tabling acting until they could learn more about state legislation that could affect utility rates and property taxes if approved before the fiscal year begins July 1 (see Thursday’s Free Press for a breakdown of the legislation).
The current version of the budget includes no increases in the current property tax rate of 66 cents per $100 of property valuation.
Electric rates are not scheduled to go up, but water rates will increase 7 percent and sewer rates 5 percent.
The water and sewer rate increases are needed because of recommendations made in the 2010 Raftelis report, which encouraged city officials to raise utility rates over four to five years to meet revenue targets required as part of covenants with bondholders.
“This is not something of our choosing,” Mayor B.J. Murphy said during Monday’s council meeting. “This is something that has been forced upon us.”
The 2013 budget as a whole has increased by slightly more than $277,000 from the current budget of $99.08 million.
Next year’s budget includes $200,000 for street resurfacing and repairs, double what was set aside for 2012.
Councilman and Mayor pro tem Joe Tyson encouraged city staffers to spend the money on street projects as quickly as possible, to avoid it being transferred to other priorities.
“I just want to make sure that $200,000 gets spent ASAP,” he said.
There is also funding for an additional staff position in the Finance Department, and $25,000 for upgrades to the Holloway Community Center.
The city will put $100,000 toward its $500,000 commitment to the construction of the Woodmen Community Center.
The city will pay that commitment off over five years, and it has also made a two-year, $200,000 commitment to moving the staff of the Kinston-Lenoir County Parks and Recreation Department from their current office on McLewean Street to the Woodmen Center and setting up administrative offices there.
The first half of the $200,000 is in next year’s budget, City Manager Tony Sears said.
A separate “enterprise fund” has been set up for the annual operations of the Woodmen Center and water park.
The fund is set at $1.4 million for next year, based on the projected revenues from membership dues and entry fees at the Lions Water Adventure water park.
Sears, along with Recreation Director Bill Ellis, said the Woodmen of the World have pledged to cover any unanticipated gap between revenues and expenditures for the first five years.
“If expenses are over revenues for the first five years the Woodmen are going to help take the burden off Lenoir County and Kinston,” Sears explained.
The 2013 budget includes $25,000 for the Planning Department — the money serves as a local match from the city to obtain a $100,000 Community Development Block Grant through the N.C. Commerce Department’s N.C. Catalyst Program.
If the city wins the grant, it would have $125,000 for removing derelict properties.
Planning Director Amanda Engesether said if the city does not get the grant, the $25,000 will go toward demolition.
David Anderson can be reached at 252-559-1077 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at DavidFreePress.
For more information on the 2012-13 budget visit the city of Kinston’s website, ci.kinston.nc.us, and click the link ‘FY 2013 Proposed Budget’ at the top of the page, highlighted in red.
FY 2012-2013 Budget Update: http://bjmurphy.org/fy-2012-2013-budget-update/