Rockingham’s proposed budget maintains streak of no tax increase

By: By Gavin Stone - Staff Writer

ROCKINGHAM — The city’s budget proposal will keep up the 18-year record of not increasing taxes and does not include any increases to residential or commercial water and sewer rates.

The tax rate of $0.48 per $100, the same as last year, will bring in $3,206,497 in revenue, according to City Manager Monty Crump. The last tax increase was in fiscal year 2000-01. All other revenue sources are projected to reach current levels or less, according to Crump’s summary submitted to the city council on Tuesday.

Some significant expenses in the general fund are: $250,000 for renovations to the Public Works Complex; $145,000 for a grapple loader for the Sanitation Department; $20,000 to recondition the pool at Browder Park; $150,000 for a backhoe and $400,000 for a new jet vac truck for the Water and Sewer Maintenance Department; and $482,600 to replace the Roberdel pump station.

There is $271,015 less in the general fund, leaving the total expenses at $934,430.

The budget proposal also includes some personnel changes. The budget will eliminate the full-time theater director position and replace it with a part-time position. Four dispatchers will be taken off the city’s payroll and put on the county’s when Emergency Services completes the transfer to its new building early next year.

Some of the money saved from cutting those four positions will go toward a new detective for the police department to replace an officer that was put on an FBI task force.

Another proposal asks to eliminate commercial trash collection. Crump said that the city has lost its trash collection customer base to collection companies that are increasingly being used by major chain businesses.

“We’re not losing money but if we had to buy a new (garbage) truck we would lose money,” Crump said. “It’s just gotten to that point … It’s still self-sufficient but it won’t be if we have to buy a new truck.”

Crump added that any businesses using a commercial trash-collection company will be given time to “migrate” to city trash collection.

The city council will hold its budget work session at 9 a.m. May 31 at Hinson Lake, and will hire Anderson, Smith and Wike, PLLC to conduct its audit.

The council also approved a resolution to ask the state for financial assistance for phase two of the Midway Dam removal project. The resolution asks for the lesser amount between $158,000 and 25 percent of whatever the final cost of the project is. The council is responsible for other expenses and tasks involved in the project.

Council members also approved moving the meeting time up an hour, from 7:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of every month to 6:30 p.m. Asked what he thought of the change, Mayor Steve Morris said, “I like the idea.”

Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]

By Gavin Stone

Staff Writer