NORTH TOPSAIL BEACH | North Topsail Beach property owners could see the property tax rate go down and the solid waste fee go up.

The recommended budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year has been presented to the Board of Aldermen and a public hearing on the proposal will be held during the June 7 meeting of the board, which begins at 6:30 p.m. in the meeting room at town hall.

According to the budget message, the proposed general fund budget increased by 6.38 percent to $4,653,500 and the two Beach Funds decreased reflecting a combined total of $10,552,991 for Funds 20 and 30.

An ad valorem tax rate of 34 cents per $100 valuation is proposed, which would be a decrease of about 5 cents.

“The decrease is due to the (county) tax revaluation,” said Finance Officer Betsy Brothers.

Onslow County conducts a revaluation of property values every four years and in accordance with state statute the tax rate is ‘revenue neutral,’ meaning is produces the same amount of property tax revenue as the year prior to the revaluation.

Revenue from ongoing new construction and a projected increase in state sales tax revenue are factored into the budget.

“The North Carolina League of Municipalities has forecasted an increase in state sales tax revenue of 4.5 percent for the next fiscal year but we chose to be more conservative and use 3 percent projection because with the economy you don’t know what can happen,” Brothers said.

Other highlights of the recommended budget include a slight increase in the solid waste fee, cost-of-living increase for employees and additional staff for the fire department.

Based on an 1.6 percent increase from Waste Industries and recycling expenditures, the solid waste fee will go from $17.40 per month to $17.68 per month under the recommended budget.

A 2.5 percent cost-of-living pay increase is proposed for employees hired prior to April 1, 2018.

Three additional full-time positions for the fire department are recommended to maintain the current ISO rating.

The department is required to have four personnel to respond to a major structure fire. The department now uses a mix of volunteers with the full-time staff, Brothers said, but it can be difficult to maintain if volunteers are out of town or sick or have other obligations.

The additional full-time personnel will better equip the department to respond to multiple calls.

Within the beach funds, the recommended budget includes $7 million in FEMA and state reimbursement funds for the restoration of sand lost in the Phase 5 Engineered Beach due to Hurricane Matthew.

According to the budget message, the town will use the USDA sinking fund to pay for related expenses until the reimbursements are received. Construction is expected to begin in November 2018.

A copy of the recommended budget is available for public review at the office of the town clerk at town hall.

 

Reporter Jannette Pippin can be reached at 910-382-2557 or Jannette.Pippin@JDNews.com.