Hoffman budget banking on boost in tax collection

By: By Christine S. Carroll - Staff Writer
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HOFFMAN — Counting on the continuing success of its tax-collection efforts, Hoffman has crafted a 2019 budget that forecasts $25,400 in revenue — an almost 5 percent jump from 2018’s figure.

The budget that will take effect July 1 includes no property tax increases and few increases in expenditures. Town employees will be offered no raises, and charges the city pays for most services will remain about the same.

The budget also predicts the town won’t have to pull any money out of savings during fiscal 2019.

“She’s collecting (taxes) pretty good,” said Commissioner Daniel Kelly, referring to Town Clerk Maggie Bethea, who has a little help from a billing firm the town hired to boost its tax-collection rate.

The budget predicts a rise in collections from $35,000 last fiscal year to $42,000 in 2019.

To win the grants needed to keep the town of 600 running despite a meager tax base, Hoffman should collect 97 percent or 98 percent of property taxes on time, Kelly said. The current collection rate is 91 percent or so, he estimated.

Kelly, who has served on the Town Commission for 38 years, said Wednesday that he couldn’t remember the latest time property taxes rose.

One notable new expense is $400 for office expenses, which will include purchase of a combination printer-scanner.

Kelly said the town would use the machine to send out the bills for its new sewer system, which will connect homes in Hoffman to the wastewater-treatment plant in Moore County, slightly to the north.

The town has not yet begun to hook up homes to the system, but contractors have laid more than half of the forced-main and about a quarter of the gravity-sewer stretches of pipe required.

Groundbreaking for the program was March 16. Workers since have laid pipe along U.S. 1 and begun collecting homeowners’ permission to dig so individual homes can be added along the line.

The town faced a setback last April, when it lost a $2 million Community Development Block Grant that would have paid for Phase 2 of the sewer project. State officials told Hoffman to reapply in the fall, Kelly said — and it will.

It took 11 years of planning and begging to bring Phase 1 to fruition.

CDBGs come from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to finance affordable housing, antipoverty programs and infrastructure development. Because many Hoffman residents earn low to middle incomes, they will not have to pay to have their septic tanks capped or to connect their homes to the sewer system.

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By Christine S. Carroll

Staff Writer

Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]

Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]