Independent TribuneNews, Top Town holds line on taxes, raises water, sewer rates

Town holds line on taxes, raises water, sewer rates

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The Harrisburg Town Council formally adopted a budget for the upcoming fiscal year that would fund several new initiatives, but hold current tax rates.

The $10.2 million budget holds the property tax rate at 13.5 cents per $100 valuation. A 6 percent increase to water and sewer rates will generate about $200,000 in new revenue, enough to cover the town’s debt service on nearly $3.5 million in capital improvement projects.

By Jonathan E. Coleman
[email protected]

The Harrisburg Town Council formally adopted a budget for the upcoming fiscal year that would fund several new initiatives, but hold current tax rates.

The $10.2 million budget holds the property tax rate at 13.5 cents per $100 valuation. A 6 percent increase to water and sewer rates will generate about $200,000 in new revenue, enough to cover the town’s debt service on nearly $3.5 million in capital improvement projects.

Harrisburg’s water and sewer rates work on a tiered schedule depending on how many gallons are used, said Town Administrator Carl Parmer. Currently, water usage is charged at a flat rate of $8 for the first 2,000 gallons. For 2,001-9,000 gallons used, the fee is an additional $4.34 per 1,000 gallons. For 9,001-12,000 gallons used, the rate is an additional $4.74 per thousand gallons. The 6 percent increase would charge $8.48 for the first tier, $4.60 per thousand for the second tier and $5.02 per thousand for the third tier.

Sewer rates work on the same concept. Currently, sewer usage is charged at a flat rate of $6.40 for the first 2,000 gallons. For 2,001-12,000 gallons, the rate is $4.38 per thousand gallons. The 6 percent increase would charge $ 6.78 for the first tier and $4.64 for the second.

The increase will cost the average water and sewer customer an additional $2.40 per month, Parmer said. It’s first water and sewer increase since 2003, he said.

New to the town’s budget this year is the fire department’s budget. The department was brought under the control of the town last year, but this was the first year the department’s budget was included in the town’s budget.

Other than how the taxes are paid, residents shouldn’t expect any change based on the department being brought under the scope of the town. In the past, all fire taxes were paid through the county, which then distributed the funds to Harrisburg. Now, the same collection will occur for those living outside the town’s limits, but within the fire department’s jurisdiction. The fire tax for in-town residents will be included in the town’s bill. The council approved holding the fire tax at 7.5 cents per $100 valuation.

To balance the budget, an additional $215,455 will be taken from the town’s fund balance, which acts as the town’s savings account.

Included in the budget is funding for a fire marshal and a sergeant to oversee the town’s nine sheriff’s deputies. Both full-time positions are effective July 1.

The budget, however, was not approved without some debate.

The ordinance was approved by a 4-2 vote after councilman Jack Roden questioned a $20,000 line item appropriating funding to the town’s Parks & Recreation department for restoration projects.

Councilman Bill Williams explained that the funds would be used to weatherproof a cabin that is expected to be relocated to the old post office site on Robinson Church Road later this month and to install a live steam train track at the site.

“It would make it a unique park,” Williams said, adding that both projects would provide educational opportunities for visitors.

But Roden expressed concern about the funding.

“For us to spend money like that when we have citizens with serious sewer problems or citizens who have no water and sewer, I’d rather see us put it into capital improvements,” he said.

Councilman Aaron Pherigo agreed.

“I’d like to have a big Ferris wheel and all kinds of stuff out there, but I think until we can afford it, I don’t think we should do it. I think smart spending is important and keeping in mind what’s important to the citizens.

“What I hear is a choo choo train and a log cabin is more important than basic services for our citizens.”

In the end, Roden and Pherigo voted against the budget ordinance, which passed by a 4-2 vote. Councilmen Phil Cowherd, Michael Hart, Steve Sciascia and Bill Williams voted in favor of the ordinance, while councilman Tom Huntley was absent.

At the meeting, the council also set a public hearing consider reducing the town’s Planning & Zoning Board from seven voting members and two alternates to five voting members and no alternates. That hearing will take place at the council’s regular monthly meeting July 9 at Town Hall.

• Contact Jonathan E Coleman at [email protected] or 704-789-9105.


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