Christiansburg draft budget includes no tax increase



Residents in Christiansburg will not face a tax increase in the upcoming year. Town staff presented council a draft budget on Tuesday that is balanced with only slight increases in water, sewer and utility fees.

Treasurer Valerie Tweedie forecasts that existing revenue streams will increase 2.5 percent overall, meaning the FY2017-18 $23.9 million budget will require no tax increase.

The budget includes three new town wide staff positions—a police patrol officer, a maintenance worker for public works and the change of a part time parks and recreation maintenance position to full time.

Initially as many as 17 new employees had been requested by department heads.

Also, town employees would receive a one percent cost of living increase and a two percent merit pool increase.

Major capital improvements and capital items contained in the budget include: Chrisman Mill Road Crossing and intersection improvement projects, N. Franklin Cambria intersection, Quinn Stuart signal, Falling Branch intersection and signal, storm drainage and stream restorations for Ellett and Town branches, College Street Basin Rehab, Pump Station upgrades, Huckleberry Trail projects, annual paving program, replacements at the water treatment plant, and implementation and design work for the town’s sewer plant.

Other major initiatives in the proposed budget include: design of wayfinding signs, updating the town’s website, incorporating more public outreach, upgrading the town’s technology backbone, phone systems for the police department and waste water treatment facility, rolling out a monthly brush pickup program, adding a vacuum truck to improve sewer maintenance programs, aquatics after school programs, stronger employee safety programs and a reduced employee cost for family medical insurance programs.

The police department would receive four new patrol vehicles to rotate older ones out of its fleet. Police Chief Mark Sisson had asked for five new vehicles and as many as four new officers, but those were eliminated and whittled down during staff review.

Also, the town’s rescue squad had asked for permission to use revenue recovery funds to hire as many as four shift supervisors. Those were removed from the draft budget.

The rescue squad has asked permission from town council to proceed with the purchase of several ultra sound machines to use in their daily service to residents.

Residents will see slight increases in the top tier for water rates and overall rates for sewer.

Homes and businesses using over 1,000 gallons water up to 50,000 gallons will see their rate jump from $6.14 to $8 per 1,000. Those in access 50,000 will see an increase from $4 to $6 per 1,000 gallons of usage. But those using only 1,000 gallons of water per month will see a decrease in their rate from $11 to $6 per month.

“These changes are needed to cover the cost of increasing water rates from the water authority as well as the need to improve our aging infrastructure and are based on recommendations and forecasts from our consultant Draper Aden,” Tweedie said.

Typical sewer rates will also see a decrease per month from $15 monthly per 2,000 gallons to $9 per month for 1,000 gallons. Rates would then increase for every 1,000 gallons thereafter from $8.50 to $10.25.

Tweedie said the new sewer rate fees will help the town improve its aging infrastructure both in the collection system for waste water and the treatment at the town’s sewer plant.

Also, the budget calls for parking violations to increase from $10 to $25, and the maximum consumer utility tax and consumption tax to rise from $2.50 to $3 per month. The overall utility tax rate will remain unchanged.

Council held a work session on the budget late into the night following Tuesday’s meeting to discuss any possible changes.

A public hearing will have to be held at the governmental body’s first meeting in June with a final vote on the budget before the end of the month.