Spending plan does not include a tax increase

In what Havelock Mayor Will Lewis called an anti-climactic moment, the Havelock Board of Commissioners unanimously passed the 2017-18 city budget during its meeting on Monday night.

The $19.3 million spending plan is about $1 million less than the 2016-17 budget and keeps the property tax rate at 59 cents per $100 in valuation. However, residents will see an increase of 32 cents per month for trash collection for a total of $16.85. Permit fees will increase by 2 percent, and water and sewer bills will go up $1.61 per month for the average customer.

“I haven’t had any complaints at all from citizens,” Commissioner George Corbin said.

Lewis pointed out that Craven County commissioners in their approved budget provided $76,000 to support the Havelock Recreation Complex, an amount that represents about one penny on the current city tax rate. He thanked county staff and commissioners for cooperation that he said didn’t exist a few years ago.

“We already serve 45 percent of residents that aren’t in the city of Havelock now, so the best thing to do we all thought was for them to invest in our complex so that we can provide better services to those 45 percent, plus ours, and this is a good start,” Lewis said. “It’s a great place to be and it’s a relationship that didn’t exist a few years ago.”

Commissioner Karen Lewis thanked the city staff or its work on the city spending plan.

“I thought it was well done,” she said. “You guys gave us a really good budget, and we really couldn’t be more pleased with what you gave us. We loved seeing that.”

The mayor said that city staffers have taken a new approach to the budget that has increased efficiency.

“It’s rare that you can make something more efficient and still somehow manage to provide all the information that all the parties need to get the job done, and somehow over the last three years through a lot of effort, that’s where we are,” he said.

“Staff does it differently than they used to. They are including input from all different layers in the city, instead of just top down, and that’s changed the way we trust the budget and the way everybody is invested in it. It resulted in another great budget for the city of Havelock, and we should be proud of it, staff should be, but most importantly, the citizens should be because there’s no doubt that we very efficiently spent the money that we spent, which predominantly comes from our taxpayers, and that’s our biggest responsibility.”