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No tax hikes, fee increases set in Spring Hope budget

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Spring Hope will slightly increase its spending in the next fiscal year, but will not have to raise the property tax rate or utility bills, according to the proposed budget Town Manager Jae Kim presented to the Spring Hope Board of Commissioners Monday night.

In his formal budget message, Kim submitted a balanced budget of $1,207,850 in the general fund and $494,000 in the water/sewer fund for a total budget of $1,701,850 for the 2019-20 fiscal year, an overall increase of 3.61 percent.

But modest growth in the tax base and projected sales tax revenues allowed Kim to hold the ad valorem property tax rate to the current 67 cents per $100 valuation, the same tax rate as Nash County. Property taxes actually account for less than half of the general fund revenues, with other taxes, fees and intergovernmental transfers comprising the rest.

He told commissioners that increases in utility rates in late 2018 meant the town would not have to increase them further for now, but they will need to be reviewed next year.

Kim’s budget includes a 2% cost of living increase for all employees and various targeted raises for the police department and some other town employees.

The biggest single expenditure in the general fund is public safety at $480,730, followed by administration at $294,759, sanitation at $142,000 and buildings at $119,308.

New expenditures during the year will focus on downtown and economic development projects, Kim said, which remain to be developed by the Main Street Downtown Development Board and commissioners.

The board is required to pass a balanced budget before July 1 after holding a public hearing. Commissioners set 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 25 as the day for the hearing and final action on the budget.

In other business Monday, the board approved water and tax write-offs, authorized the annual advertising of delinquent tax liens and heard departmental reports.

New resident Peggy Leggett of South Walnut Street and her husband told commissioners that cars were speeding down Walnut Street at unsafe speeds, causing several crashes, and urged the board to install more speed signs and increase enforcement.

Spring Hope Area Chamber of Commerce President Allen Barbee also reported that the opening of the town’s new N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles-contracted license plate agency in May had gone well and early numbers were encouraging.

He also said organizers of the Miss Pumpkin Queen Pageant had decided to open up eligibility for contestants to all young women with a Spring Hope address.