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Columbus proposes no tax increase budget 

Budget workshops scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday 

 

COLUMBUS—The Town of Columbus is preparing its budget for fiscal year 2019-2020.  

The town is proposing a no tax increased budget as well as no increases in water and sewer rates next year.  

The Columbus Fire Department has asked for a 4-cent tax increase, but the Polk County Board of Commissioners will set the fire tax rate. The county is proposing a 3-cent tax increase for the Columbus Fire Department. 

The proposed budget includes a 2 percent cost of living salary increase for employees and a 1.2 percent increase in the employer’s required contribution rate for the North Carolina Local Government Employees Retirement System.  

“Staff believes this proposed balanced budget actively meets the town’s needs and addresses many of the issues that were mentioned in the budget retreat in March,” states the town’s budget message, submitted by town manager Tim Barth and assistant finance director/town clerk Monica Greene. “We have actively strived to create a budget that is workable and respectable to those citizens and customers we serve by finding the most cost effective way to provide services.”  

Goals for the year rated during the budget retreat include dredging the wastewater treatment plant aeration basin and removing the internal wall; purchasing new police vehicles, including a Ford Explorer and a Ford F-150 truck; comprehensive plan development; adding one public works employee; determining wastewater treatment plant sludge disposal method; stormwater improvements in the Wall and Mill Street area; improvement to the police department career development program; water meter replacements; installing new meters to enable emergency water purchase through the county interconnection; improving sewer right of way maintenance; side arm mower for the public works department; finance/billing software upgrades; town hall front door replacement and cleaning/painting as needed; public works truck replacement of a Ford F-250 four wheel drive diesel; Highwood Apartments water line replacement; Mallard Drive water line replacement; Tryon Estates pump station; Peniel Road sewer service; Fox Mountain Road water line loop to improve flow; improving the manhole access near the BP pump station and zoning ordinance review and revisions.  

General fund revenues are expected to increase next year. The assessed property tax value for next year is $119,259,756, which is an increase of $3,217,816 over the current fiscal year, which is $116,041,940.  

Sales tax figures are projected to be less next year because of the 2018 World Equestrian Games.  

Occupancy tax is expected to be the same next year, at $28,000 for Columbus.  

Columbus will hold budget workshops on Tuesday and Thursday night this week.  

Although a public hearing has not been set, town council normally holds a public hearing on the proposed budget during its June meeting, which is scheduled for 6 p.m. on June 20. Council will approve the budget during the June 20 meeting.  

The new budget year will begin July 1.