ZEBULON — The Town Board is expected to adopt Zebulon’s 2013-14 spending plan Wednesday, regardless of whether or not a major state revenue stream is extended by that time.
Commissioners pushed back this month’s work session from June 19 to June 26 with hopes the General Assembly would renew hold harmless funds before they adopt the town budget. The funding is a compensation for towns left in the red after the General Assembly’s decision in 1988 to repeal the inventory tax.
“Hopefully the state will have decided on their budget by (June 26),” Zebulon Mayor Bob Matheny said at the Town Board’s meeting on June 3. “If so, obviously we would make some modifications to this budget.”
The state House and Senate passed $20.6 billion budgets, but differ on some details that may not be resolved until after June 30. That would be too late for towns, like Zebulon, hoping to find out if hold harmless funds will be reinstated, since town budgets by law must be adopted by July 1.
Zebulon’s proposed $7.9 million budget was structured around the $420,000 shortfall the town will face if hold harmless funding ends this June as scheduled. The town snipped capital and operation expenses out of its proposed budget for the upcoming year in anticipation of the loss of revenue.
The proposed budget includes a 1.25-cent property tax increase for the upcoming year that would bring the tax rate to 52.5 cents per $100 of property value. That would mean a person whose property is valued at $150,000 would pay $787.50 in town taxes and a total of $1,588.50 including county taxes.
The tax increase was needed to keep the budget afloat despite the freezing of four vacant positions between the Zebulon Public Works and Police departments, producing a savings of about $195,000 in fiscal year 2014.
Residents can also expect to see utility rates increase by 5.5 percent in the upcoming year to keep in line with the town’s water and sewer merger payback plan with Raleigh. The increase is equal to $5.32 per month for customers using 5,000 gallons of water.