June 25--The village of Misenheimer and the town of Richfield approved their budgets with no increases to property tax rates at their respective meetings Monday night.
Misenheimer's rate will remain at 22 cent per $100 valuation. Richfield's will remain at 17 cent per $100 valuation.
Both municipalities will see increases in service rates, though.
Richfield will raise its residential sewer rates by approximately 4 percent, from $27 to $28 for the first 2,000 gallons. The cost of each additional 1,000 gallons will increase from $6.50 to $7.
Commercial rates will increase approximately 3 percent, from $32 to $33 for the first 2,000 gallons. The cost of each additional 1,000 gallons will also increase from $6.50 to $7.
"That's the cost that's hurting us the most," Town Clerk Carolyn Capps said.
Both the county and Albemarle, which supply most of the water to local municipalities, have increased water and sewer rates this year.
"We had to make up some of the extra expense there," Capps said.
Overall the town anticipates a balanced budget of about $527,000, a 10 percent increase over last year.
The largest expense increases are from staff salaries and additional equipment since the town took on a new employee at the end of this fiscal year and aims to purchase a new tractor in the next.
Misenheimer does not administer water and sewer services and will therefore avoid the increases plaguing Richfield and other municipalities. However, the village will raise solid waste and recycling pick-up rates by 2 percent to keep pace with the Consumer Price Index for this year.
Other municipalities in the county have increased waste pick-up rates as well.
Even with the increase, Misenheimer will keep overall revenues close to what they were last year. The village aims for a total balanced budget of approximately $410,000 in 2014-2015, an increase of less than 10 percent from last fiscal year's proposed budget.
Some of that extra budget money will go toward a 6 percent salary increase for police and village staff. About 1.5 percent is a cost of living expense, but the rest is for merit and market adjustments.
"Entry level police officer salaries are below the area minimum comparable salaries," the village's budget memo states.
"Salaries must be periodically analyzed and evaluated to maintain market comparability in order to attract and retain qualified personnel."
To back that move, Pfeiffer University agreed to provide $10,000 more in its contract with the village, a total of $230,000 toward police expenses.
The value of village employment will be increased further with benefit coverage. The village will assume the 20 percent increase in health insurance premiums that accompanied the new health insurance system, a 10 percent increase in dental insurance premiums and maintain a 401(k) employer contribution rate of 5 percent for eligible employees.
However, the budget does not continue to cover dependent health/dental insurance. In previous budget discussions, Police Chief Erik McGinnis said that benefit is rarely used.
Other points of interest in the budget include increased investment in the Gladstone Academy. The village will put $5,000 toward a design study by an architect and about $25,000 toward a privacy hedge and the restoration of windows and doors on the building.
The police department will receive $4,000 for radar guns and the zoning department has been allotted extra funds for a light meter to determine ordinance compliance.
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