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Property tax rates across Wilson County towns are staying the same, except for a 5 cent increase in Elm City and 3 cents more in Sims.
“Due to the town’s loss of $4 million in tax levy from the closing of two commercial businesses in the last two years, we are working to keep our budget balanced,” said Dena Owens, Elm City town clerk and interim town administrator. “The proposed tax rate increase will bring the town a little over $30,000 in income.”
Officials last summer reversed a proposed 3-cent property tax increase for the current budget, but Sims Finance Officer Rhonda Payne said fees associated with zoning and increased development as well as updates to the land use plan prompted the proposed property tax increase.
Sims’ public hearing on the budget is set for 6 p.m. on June 24 at the community center while Elm City will hear from the public about its budget at 7 p.m. that evening in the town’s boardroom.
While Saratoga and Stantonsburg have taken action on the budget for fiscal year 2019-20, other small towns around Wilson County will have public hearings later this week or month.
Officials used interest from a certificate of deposit to help balance the $3,376,900 budget for fiscal year 2019-20 and buy a line truck. Town Clerk Cindy Dougherty said at the end of June, anything left in the capital outlay in each fund is put in a CD and the interest increases each year.
The town has been without an administrator since November and the vacancy is reflected in a nearly $47,000 decrease in general fund salaries and savings to the town’s insurance. Another $3,000 was added to the budget to cover November elections for the mayor and commissioners, but it includes a $1,800 savings in salaries for officials.
The small town has the lowest budget at $654,675, despite a $50,006 increase from the current fiscal year. More than $47,000 is from increased costs for the town audit, fees and increased water customers.
The tri-county community has the largest town budget in Wilson County and includes a 3% increase from the current fiscal year. Officials are planning to hire an additional public works employee later this summer, buy a lawnmower and boom cutter and replace 27 fire hydrants for more than $140,000.
Officials have proposed a $281,100 budget for fiscal year 2019-20 that includes a 55-cent increase in recycling fees due to an increase in cost from Waste Industries. There also is a proposed increase for water and sewer customers that are outside the town’s corporate limits.
The more than $4.2 million budget reflects the county’s lowest property tax rate at $0.50 per $100 valuation and Wilson County’s only budget decrease. Stantonsburg Town Manager Gary Davis said the town saved $35,000 in insurance costs because of a significant rate reduction due in part to the retirement of several employees.
“As a result, the health insurance line items in the current fiscal year budget were significantly underspent,” Davis said. “Although the town does anticipate an increase in rates this year, we still felt comfortable in reducing the amount budgeted for health insurance as compared to the previous fiscal year budget.”