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Columbus holds off on budget

Special meeting called for June 24

COLUMBUS—Columbus Town Council held off this week on approving the budget for fiscal year 2021-2022 and instead decided to hold another workshop and special meeting on June 24. 

Columbus Town Council met Thursday and heard from councilman Robert Williamson, who said he has spent 20 hours on a spreadsheet for council to consider not raising taxes. 

The majority of town council has previously said they do not want to go revenue neutral on the budget and keep the tax rate the same for next year. By doing so, the town estimates to receive an additional $23,799 next year. 

The town is proposing to leave its tax rate the same at 52.46 cents per $100 of property valuation, including the fire department tax rate. The town’s tax rate is 42 cents and the fire department’s rate is 10.46 cents. The revenue neutral rate for the town would have been 40.59 cents for the town and 10.11 cents for the fire department. 

Columbus is also proposing a 15 percent increase in pay to its police officers next fiscal year. 

Williamson said he is proposing a lower tax rate where cuts can be made with unspent money from the current fiscal year in the amount of $269,000. 

Williamson said the current budget has extra money in it. 

 “What I’m recommending is we wait until the last minute to set a new tax rate,” Williamson said. 

Williamson said people and businesses are struggling now and his spreadsheet is a way to have a very good budget with just nickel and dime reductions. 

Councilman Mark Phillips said as a council, they are not physically raising taxes. 

Williams said the town has an opportunity to lower the tax rate and an obligation to the taxpayers. 

The workshop and special meeting, when council agreed to approve the budget, will be held at 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 24. 

Local governments have to approve a budget and set a tax rate prior to July 1, when the new fiscal year begins. 

The full budget proposal can be found on the town’s website at columbusnc.com under the town government tab.