No new taxes for Radford in budget

RADFORD — Radford City Council voted in favor of the city’s new budget Monday, paving the way for another year of no increased tax rates for the city.

The $59.2 million budget does include a $2 increase in the basic water rate and a $3 increase in the basic sewer rate. Tax rates for real estate, personal property, machinery and tools, lodging and meals will remain the same, however. All other rates, including electric, trash pick-up, recreation fees, building permits and library fees are also set to remain level.

Radford City Manager David Ridpath said Monday he feels the budget maintains all essential city services, compensates employees and retains the city’s quality of life while keeping taxes low.

“Our budget philosophy is to minimize the burden on our citizens and businesses, make real revenue projections, maintain high quality core services… and minimize the size of government,” he said during a budget presentation and public hearing at Monday’s Radford City Council meeting. “That’s what we’ve stuck to over the past few years.”

Monday’s vote was the first of two required votes on the budget; the second is set for April 28. Monday’s reading was passed 3-1, with Mayor Dr. Bruce Brown unable to attend and Councilman Keith Marshall voting against the budget. Prior to the vote, Marshall said while he favored the majority of the budget, he could not support the increase in water and sewer rates.

“Overall I am very pleased with the budget, but I’m not in favor of the increase in the water and sewer rate,” he said.

“They have put out a budget we can be proud of,” Marshall said after the vote.

Ridpath said increased revenues into the city helped keep tax rates level, with real estate, sales and meals taxes all bringing more money into the city coffers than ever before. Ridpath said the sales and meals tax increases are particularly heartening.

“They’ve jumped over a million dollars each,” he said. “That’s such a good sign of a healthier economy and of people spending money in our community.”

Real estate tax revenue is budgeted at $6.1 million in the upcoming fiscal year 2015 budget, with sales tax estimated at $1.16 million and meals tax at $1.12 million.

Monday’s public hearing, which was held to give citizens a chance to speak on both the city and school division’s budgets, yielded no speakers. A separate public hearing was also held on the proposed tax rates, with no comments made.

Of the $59,278,393 budget, $24,984,334 is general fund, which includes everything from schools to police and fire departments, and parks to city administration. Of the remainder, $20,243,079 is for the electric fund and $5,456,557 is for the water/wastewater fund. The transit fund, which is primarily grant funded, is allotted $4,218,931; the street maintenance fund, which includes VDOT funding, is budgeted $2,296,013; and the solid waste fund has a $1,191,285 budget, and the internal services fund is budgeted $888,194.

Ridpath said he feels the new budget supports future growth for the city.

“This budget positions us well for the future,” he said. “It supports economic growth and it’s a conservative budget. This is a good place to live and a good place to do business.”

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