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Erwin BMA hoping to avoid property tax increase this year

Town of Erwin officials say the 2020-21 fiscal year budget will most likely not include a property tax increase. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Richard Rourk)

By Richard Rourk

The Town of Erwin moved a step forward in its 2020-21 fiscal year budget process on Monday, June 8, as the Board of Mayor and Aldermen met for four hours.

The BMA has heard from every office over the past two weeks and has come up with a projected budget, according to town officials.

“This is a very early, first draft version of the budget,” Town of Erwin City Recorder Travis Bishop told The Erwin Record. “A lot can change over the coming days, so this is not set in stone.”

According to the tentative budget, it appears that the Town of Erwin will avoid a tax increase this year. The projected budget shows a total projected revenue of $5,476,898 for the town with a total of $5,235,570 in expenditures. The early numbers show a surplus of $241,328 for the town.

The Town of Erwin also has other revenues, including various grant money, that equals $847,735. This $847,735 revenue stream combined with the $241,328 surplus brings the total surplus for Erwin to $1,089,063.

“Again these numbers are not set in stone,” Bishop said.

The $1,089,063 surplus has been met with a $976,781 expenditure for ongoing capital projects, including the Fishery Park master plan and the Second Street signage project among others. With the $976,781 expenditure, the new surplus balance is $112,282 dollars, which should prevent a property tax increase.

“With the early projections we do not see a need for a tax increase,” Mayor Doris Hensley said. “We are going to do everything we can to prevent that.”

Last year, Town of Erwin residents received a 40-cent property tax increase that took the tax rate from $1.462 to $1.862 per every $100 of assessed property value.

Because of a projected surplus of close to $200,000 in the 2020-21 budget, Hensley explained that the BMA can focus on improvements throughout the town.

“We can look to pave some roads and fix some sidewalks,” Hensley said. “We hope to have a sidewalk project started in this (2020-21) budget year. We can also get some needed equipment for our parks department.”

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Also on Monday, the BMA moved forward to the next step on a state-funded grant in the amount of $158,167 to fix roadways.

“This would be used for general road paving projections, nothing specific,” Bishop said. “These funds will come from the CARES Act and will not cost the town anything.”

The BMA voted unanimously to apply for the $159,167 state grant following a motion made by Vice Mayor Mark Lafever and seconded by Alderwoman Rachelle Hyder-Shurtz.

Another grant was approved by the BMA on Monday as members agreed to apply for a $25,000 grant for a sidewalk study. According to Bishop, the funds are 100 percent covered by the state. “This grant is 100 percent funded,” Bishop said.

Moving on, the BMA approved a sidewalk ordinance, following a unanimous vote, that would allow dining establishments with a beer license to serve alcohol on the sidewalk during normal business hours.

In closing, Alderman Gary Chandler reported that a project that was started a few months ago is complete. Erwin Utilities has completed the transfer of the incandescent street lights to LED ones.

“The change to LED lighting throughout downtown Erwin is complete,” Chandler said.