Tryon approves budget without setting tax rate

Published 4:19 pm Monday, July 1, 2013

Town awaiting state decision on $90k in revenue

Tryon Town Council adopted a budget last week without setting a tax rate.

The town is waiting  on the North Carolina state legislature to adopt its budget and decide whether or not to release hold harmless revenue to local governments this year. This revenue was created by the state to offset any potential loss for cities and towns as the state collected sales tax monies from counties to cover its costs of taking on Medicaid.

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Tryon’s hold harmless revenue for this year was estimated at about $90,000. Council met for a special meeting on Friday, June 28 when the town had hoped the state would have made its decision but hadn’t. The town is required to adopt the fiscal year 2013-2014 budget by June 30, so leaders adopted it under N.C. General Statute 159-15, which states, “If after July 1 the local government receives revenues that are substantially more or less than the amount anticipated, the governing body may, before January 1 following adoption of the budget, amend the budget ordinance to reduce or increase the property tax levy to account for the unanticipated increase or reduction in revenues.”

One penny in tax revenue for Tryon is approximately $16,000, so it would take five cents in property taxes if the town had to make up the amount through property taxes alone, which doesn’t appear to be the case.

“While the town hasn’t discussed a tax increase, they have left it on the table, though we are anticipating that the state will come to some sort of a compromise which will allow funding for municipalities to not be as adversely affected,” said town manager Joey Davis. “I really think that the council would look at every possible alternative before agreeing to raise the tax rate.”

Council decided last week to hold approximately $20,000 in contingency from various line items and agreed to visit the idea of employee holiday bonuses later in the year, depending on how the budget looks in November.

State legislation is expected to adopt its budget later this month, with Tryon planning to adopt a tax rate at its August meeting. The town doesn’t hold a regular meeting in July.

If the state withholds the hold harmless revenue, Tryon could pull from its fund balance, raise the tax rate or cut that amount from the budget.

Tryon’s approved budget is for a total of $4,188,268, including $1,609,637 in the general fund and $1,700,026 in the water sewer fund.

Other funds total $878,605 including $60,000 for Powell Bill, $13,000 for tourism development, $225,995 in sanitation, $383,755 for the fire department and $195,855 for Harmon Field.

The town is increasing water/sewer rates by 1 percent and sanitation rates by 2 percent. The town also agreed to a 1 percent employee raise beginning today with the merit or bonus pending at 1 percent in November.

Council also wants to set aside money to replace the roof at the Harmon Field building. The Harmon Field budget includes $7,000 for capital outlay, but commissioner Roy Miller said the town needs to put money specifically for the roof because without a new roof the town cannot sell the building.

Davis agreed to come back to council in August with estimates on fixing the roof. Tryon’s new budget year began today, July 1. Tryon’s tax rate last year was 47.78 cents per $100 of property valuation.