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Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
P. O. Box 3711
204 Broad Street
Martinsville, Virginia 24115
Toll Free: 800-234-6575

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Budget hearing is set

Monday, May 13, 2013

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

City residents on Tuesday will have an opportunity to voice to Martinsville City Council their concerns about the proposed fiscal 2014 budget.

A public hearing on the spending plan, which includes a real estate tax rate hike and higher garbage collection fees, is slated for the council meeting at 7:30 that night at the municipal building on West Church Street uptown.

The increases are necessary due to financial constraints, according to City Manager Leon Towarnicki.

The real estate tax rate is proposed increase from $1.01816 to $1.0621 — almost 4.4 cents — per $100 of assessed property value.

That means the tax bill for a home assessed at $100,000 would increase by $43.94, from $1,018.16 to $1,062.10.

Yet the rate hike does not necessarily mean that real estate owners would pay more in taxes.

A recent citywide reassessment resulted in an average decline in real estate values of 4.14 percent. Towarnicki has said that would cause the city to lose about $260,000 in tax revenue.

The proposed “equalization” rate hike would let the city basically continue taking in the same amount of real estate tax revenue it now is receiving.

Under state law, a tax rate hike is not considered a tax increase unless the locality sees its revenue jump by at least 1 percent.

Whether residents and businesses see higher tax bills in the new fiscal year that will start July 1 would depend on whether their properties decreased in value, and by how much, officials have said.

The vehicle tax rate is to remain at $2.30 per $100 of assessed value. The rate for manufacturing machinery and tools is to remain at $1.85 per $100.

No water, sewer or electric rate hikes are part of the spending plan, which would raise the monthly residential garbage collection fee from $16.25 to $18.50. The fee for emptying large, business-type trash containers would jump from $24.50 to $26 each time one is emptied.

Businesses without such containers would pay twice the residential rate for twice-weekly garbage collection, according to the budget proposal.

Expenditures in the proposed budget total $88,698,746 while revenues total only $84,638,852. The difference of $4,059,894 would be made up from transfers from utility funds — profits from which go to support city services — and reserve funds, said city Finance Director Linda Conover.

The proposed budget ordinance shows the city is expected to have about $13.3 million in its fund balance, including reserve funds, when fiscal 2014 ends in June of that year.

However, Conover said she could not yet determine exactly how much in reserve funds would be used toward balancing the budget.

The city schools are set to receive $6,360,531, the amount of local funding they sought. The proposed budget had included $6,013,985 for the schools, but the council recently voted to give them the higher amount to help them hire new employees and meet the state Standards of Quality.

The budget proposal also funds three new full-time city jobs: An assistant city manager, an assistant finance director/budget analyst and a mechanic who would work at the city garage.

Following the public hearing, the council will consider adopting the budget ordinance on first reading. Final approval would come at a later date.

By law, a final budget must be adopted by July 1.


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