Christiansburg leaders have made adjustments to the fiscal year 2019 budget that is one step closer to be advertised for public comment.
Council on Tuesday tweaked its community support to several groups and agreed in principle to the final budget of $59.2 million.
During a work session, Town Manager Randy Wingfield pointed to the fact several departments requested additional funds before a set deadline, while others the council had funded in the past did not meet that deadline.
Councilman Henry Showalter said that has happened several times in the past, which is the reason for the deadline in the first place, to avoid making late adjustments to the budget.
“We have to keep that in mind when we look at these,” he said.
The finance committee had agreed on the final list, but councilman Brad Stipes wondered why the amounts set to be given had decreased from the previous year.
After a short discussion, the group agreed in consensus to push the funds to equal the amounts from last year’s budget.
Council will allocate $113,000 to the following groups:
- $12,000 to Free Clinic Community Health Center
- $1,500 to Literacy Volunteers
- $5,000 to NRV Cares Children’s Advocacy
- $1,500 to Brain Injury
- $5,000 to Children’s Trust
- $18,000 to Christiansburg Institute
- $4,18 to the Boys and Girls Club
- $5,000 to Good Samaritan Hospice
- $5,000 to the Christmas Store
- $2,300 to the Montgomery County Emergency Assistance Program
- $15,000 to the Christiansburg Library
- $1,800 to New River Family Shelter
- $4,076 to Area on Aging
- $25,000 to ACCE
The new budget also includes $28,307 to the Regional Commission, $6,600 to the Metropolitan Planning Organization, $4,000 to NRV Regional Commission Housing Study, $7,000 to the SBA Development Center, $22,140 to the NRV Regional Airport, $50,000 to the VT Airport, $5,000 to the Economic Development Alliance, $5,000 for passenger rail and an estimated $158,194 for tourism.
Residents will see an increase in water, sewer and garbage fees. Water rates will rise from $6 monthly for a 1,000 gallons or less to $7. Sewer rates will rise from $9 monthly for a 1,000 gallons or less to $10.
The garbage rate increase from $17 to $22 is directly connected to plans for curbside recycling that will begin as of July 1.
The increase is to cover the cost of the curbside recycling and cover ongoing administrative costs to manage the program and monitor the contractors.
On the flip side, the town is expecting to see increases in revenue from property taxes, meals tax, lodging tax and sales tax.
The budget does include a two percent merit increase for both town employees and council members. In addition, both will be given a one-percent “cost-of-living” increase.
No other changes were made to the proposed budget. The budget does not call for a real estate tax increase. The current rate is $0.16 per $100 of assessed value, and hasn’t been raised since 2015 when it was at $0.13, according to town spokesperson Melissa Demmitt.
The discussion also followed up on last week’s concern by a local business owner on whether the town’s cigarette tax is hurting businesses. Everyone at the table agreed it is something that needed to be studied.
Council’s Marissa Sachs said the problem is the amount had already been set in this upcoming budget. The group asked treasurer Valerie Tweedie to begin a study on how it would affect next year’s (FY19-20) budget if the amount would be lowered and whether she thought other items like food tax would go up.
Remon Yassa, who owns the BP gas station and convenience store on N. Franklin St., complained he is losing business because people are going to stores outside town limits to buy their cigarettes.
Currently, the towns cigarette tax is $4 per carton and/or $0.40 a pack. The rate increased in 2009 from 30 cents per pack. For at least two years, the town showed revenue of over $721,000 with a high of $77,965 in 2009. From there, the amount has been on a decline with revenue of $513,200 this current fiscal year.
The decline, according to the business owner is because people are again going elsewhere to buy their cigarettes.
The budget will now be advertised for a public hearing with a final vote coming by mid-May.