Albemarle’s proposed $81 million budget keeps tax rate at 61 cents

Published 3:26 pm Tuesday, May 2, 2023

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Albemarle’s proposed $81 million budget for fiscal year 2023-2024 includes a 6% cost of living adjustment for all employees while also keeping the property tax rate the same.

The proposed budget, which was introduced at Monday night’s city council meeting, recommends the property tax rate remain at 61 cents per $100 valuation for the third consecutive year along with increases in the water and sewer rates. 

The budget process was developed to align with the goals and objectives of the City of Albemarle’s Strategic Plan. The plan was developed following responses from residents to a community survey, feedback from city staff and input from the city council.

“The annual development of a balanced budget to meet the needs of our citizenry is a daunting task,” City Manager Michael Ferris wrote in his budget letter to the city council. “We continue to experience the rising cost of doing business and the unique and ever-growing demands placed on the City of Albemarle.”

The budget requires City Council approval. A public hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. June 5, during which time Council may vote on its approval. The 2023-2024 fiscal year starts July 1.

Bolstering the police department

About $22.3 million of the total budget will go to the General Fund, about 11% more than the FY 22-23 adjusted budget.

Operations of the fire and police departments account for 46% of the General Fund budget expenditures. The total cost of these two departments is $12 million, while the proposed property tax rate generates revenues totaling $8.1 million.

Four police vehicles will be purchased along with a second K9 for the department. Funding will also go to additional rifles, body cameras and mobile equipment.

Albemarle Police will also add a new school resource officer position, which will ensure that an SRO will be located at each of the four public schools within the city.

The budget includes an increase of $5 in the motor vehicle registration fee to support increased funding of street maintenance and preservation activities.

Other highlights in the general fund include:

  • Overhauling and updating to the fire department’s existing front-line engine and roof replacement at Fire Station 1.
  • Reestablishing funding for an assistant Parks and Recreation director.
  • Funding for the city’s new Kayak Rental Program.
  • New score boards at Optimist Park and EE Waddell Center.

What else is in the budget?

The Water and Sewer Fund Budget is proposed at $15.1 million, about 11% more than the FY 22-23 adjusted budget.

The proposed budget includes a 3% water rate increase and an 8% sewer rate increase. The rate adjustments “are once again proposed to move toward greater cost of service equity between water and sewer services.”

Projects include supporting the Highway Water Treatment Plant 52 security improvements at access points and a rehabilitation of the front tank, conducting a water line replacement project on First Avenue and a sewer line replacement on Coble Avenue and replace equipment across all operations including replacing a boom truck, right of way mowers, dump truck and a new sewer jet truck.

The Electric Budget is proposed at almost $33.3 million, about 7% less than the FY 22-23 adjusted budget. There will be no “across-the-board” changes in electric rates, as the average Albemarle residential customer has had rates reduced 15.5% over the last nine fiscal years. 

“As a City, we are proud of what we have achieved with customer rates while remaining a Public Power Award of Excellence winner and a nationally awarded RP3 Diamond level system,” Ferris said.

The city will add a lineworker to its Electric Division along with an additional customer service representative.

There will also be funding for improvements along U.S. Highway 52 South to enhance system reliability, Phase 3 of wastewater inflow and infiltration project, Advanced Meter Infrastructure meters and supporting infrastructure and for continued upgrades to LED streetlights.

The Solid Waste Disposal Fund is proposed at $4.2 million, about 11% more than the FY 22-23 adjusted budget. There will be no change to the tipping fee for municipal solid waste or the construction and demolition disposal fee.

The budget includes payments for the force main sewer leachate line and previous debt obligations for equipment and funding to study the construction and demolition cell at the landfill.

The Public Housing Budget is proposed at $1.6 million while the Public Housing Section 8 budget is set for $1 million.

The city’s Healthcare Fund is set at $3.3 million while the Powell Bill Fund is proposed at $580,397.

Copies of the budget for public inspection will be available at City Hall, at the Stanly County Public Library and on the city’s website.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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