Front Royal’s $45.8 million budget proposal holds line on taxes

The Warren Sentinel

FRONT ROYAL — Town Manager Steven Burke proposed a $45.8 million spending plan to the town council at its Monday night work session.

The proposal for fiscal 2016-17 is based on the current real-estate tax rate of 13 cents per $100 of assessed value, though the council has not yet adopted a rate for the next fiscal year.

The council last week advertised an increase to 14 cents per $100, then voted 3-2 in favor of keeping the rate at 13 cents. The motion failed, however, because tax rate votes require a supermajority, or four votes in favor.

The rate has been readvertised and council will try again to approve a first reading of the rate at an upcoming meeting. It needs to be approved twice to be adopted.

The $45.8 million spending plan represents a 3.7-percent increase from the current fiscal year. It includes $13.9 million for the general fund, $18.5 million for the electric fund, $5.7 million for the water fund, $6.5 million for the sewer fund and $1.1 million for the solid waste fund.

Personnel costs make up about $13 million, about 28 percent of the total spending in the plan. Town employees would get a $1-per-hour cost-of-living adjustment.

The budget proposal includes a 10-percent increase in the cost of employeesí health insurance.

Seven new positions would be created under the plan, Burke said. The Police Department and Town Attorneyís Office would share a legal assistant. The Police Department also would add an evidence technician and a communications shift supervisor, according to the plan. The Energy Services Department would add an engineering technician and a traffic technician. The Fleet Maintenance Division would add an automotive technician and the Water and Sewer Maintenance Division would add a line technician.

Water, sewer and electric rates would remain unchanged under the proposal, but most customers would see an increase in the cost of trash pickup.

The town would continue to charge $12 per month to pick up a 32-gallon can, however the cost to pick up a 96-gallon can would increase by $1 to $14.75 per month.

All commercial trash collection customers would see an increase. The charge for the town to pick up a 96-gallon can would increase by $3 to $26 per month; Dumpster pickup would increase by $25 to $215 per month. The charge to pick up two Dumpsters would increase by $60 to $300 per month.

The commercial Dumpster tipping fee would increase by $21 to $58 per month.

Walt Davenport of MSW Consultants told council members last month that the town has been losing money in commercial trash collection. At the time, he recommended the town either take over all commercial trash collection within its borders to improve efficiency or get out entirely.

He also said maintenance of the townís aging fleet of garbage trucks often goes over budget.

Burke set a scheduled for the budget discussions which includes a public hearing on May 9 and possible adoption two weeks later.

The new fiscal year begins July 1. The last scheduled meeting before that is set for June 27.

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