In football, a player jumping on a ball carrier after the whistle can get a penalty for piling on.
As Havelock city staff and commissioners enter the grunt work of forming the 2013-14 budget, the referee has his penalty flag in hand and is preparing to throw it.
The reason is simply. The proposed budget includes a property tax rate increase of 2 cents per $100 in property value. For a typical home in Havelock, that amounts to $27 more per year residents will have to pay the government.
We must say that the budget is only a proposal at this point, and nothing is final. Commissioners oppose the idea of a tax increase and will work with city staff during budget sessions — which are open to the public by the way — in an effort to hammer out the details of the city’s spending plan for the next fiscal year.
We do give city staff some credit. General expenses are down about $1.1 million in the proposal compared to the current fiscal year.
So why the tax increase?
According to city officials, the reasons are many. One of those is a lack of funding from the state for road maintenance. If you recall, the city started a five-year plan to improve streets and roads, with that money coming from the state’s Powell Bill Fund. Money for that fund comes from state gasoline taxes, which have been decreasing.
Also, with the lack of home construction combined with foreclosures, the city has not seen residential or commercial growth to add to the tax base. Basically, the amount of money the city is taking in from taxes, business permits, and water and sewer hookups is not increasing to match the expenses of city business.
Still, we hate the idea of city residents having to pay more.
And it’s not just in property taxes. The city is also proposing an increase in trash service from the current $13.95 per month to $16.77. That amounts to nearly $34 per year.
Add to that proposed increases in certain permit fees, and residents will be paying out more money next year to the city.
Residents are already facing enough issues, as the economy continues to struggle and many face the likelihood of work furloughs from Cherry Point, meaning less money in their paychecks.
And now this budget proposes to take more money from them. It’s just one more thing added to the financial woes many residents are enduring.
We hope city staff and commissioners will work on this proposed budget to eliminate the tax increase. If it is approved, we might flag the board and city staff for piling on, but residents will be the ones who will end up penalized.