4/18/19: PRELIMINARY TOWN BUDGET FIGURES FOR FY 2019-20 SHOW BALANCE OF $6.2 MILLION WITH NO INCREASE IN PROPERTY TAXES; County and Town Offices Closed for Good Friday

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A draft of projected expenses and revenues in fiscal year 2019-20 for the Town of Southern Shores shows a balance of $6,220,846, according to a report recently posted on the Town website, without any need to raise ad valorem (real property) taxes.

Town Manager/Budget Officer Peter Rascoe and Finance Officer Bonnie Swain will present these figures to the Town Council for review at a special budget work session next Tuesday, at 9 a.m., in the Pitts Center. The public will have an opportunity to comment during the meeting.

The Town Council approved by resolution last year a second budget session meeting for Tuesday, April 30, which is the date of the special congressional primary election. That session has not yet been canceled or rescheduled.

After the review(s), Mr. Rascoe will incorporate the projected expenses and revenues into his proposed FY 2019-20 annual operating budget, which he will submit to the Council at its May 7 meeting. He is expected to recommend that a public hearing be held on the budget at the Council’s June 4 meeting.

The Town Council must adopt a budget no later than July 1, 2019, the first day of the 2019-20 fiscal year.

To see both the April 23 budget meeting agenda and the draft projected General Fund expenses and revenues, click:

https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/wp-content/uploads/minutes-agendas-newsletters/Meeting-Packet_2019-04-23.pdf

According to Ms. Swain, who spoke with The Beacon last year about budgetary basics, the Town has three different funds: the General Fund (GF), which covers nearly all of the budget expenses, including monies to fund operations of the different Town departments (administration, public works, police, code enforcement), to purchase fire-protection services, and to pay for capital improvements; the Capital Reserve Fund (CRF), which Ms. Swain described as “a savings account for capital projects”; and the Cemetery Fund.

Both the GF and the CRF have unassigned fund balances. Pursuant to a Town Council resolution, a minimum of $1.75 million must be maintained in the GF unassigned fund balance for emergencies related to natural disasters. The exact amount in the GF unassigned fund balance for FY 2019-20 will be determined at the end of FY 2018-19, but an estimate should be available before then. In recent years, the balance has been in excess of $3 million.

OVERVIEW OF MAJOR REVENUES, EXPENSES

According to Budget Officer Rascoe’s figures, nearly 50 percent of the Town’s $6,220,846 in projected revenues comes from ad valorem taxes, and about 35 percent comes from occupancy, sales, and land-transfer taxes. The respective numbers are $3,081,460 and $2,165, 590.

The remaining projected revenues come from a combination of unrestricted intergovernmental revenues, such as utilities franchise and telecommunications taxes; restricted intergovernmental revenues, such as the Powell Bill allocation (state money that must be used on roads) and other grants; permits and fees; interest income, and miscellaneous profits and donations.

On the expense side of the ledger, costs to run the police department make up about 28 percent, and administration department expenses consume about 17 percent, of the projected $6,220,846.

Salaries constitute the largest line-item expense in both departments, as well as in the public works (total expenses of $532,469) and planning and code enforcement ($265,523) departments. Every Town employee is projected to receive a 2.5 percent cost-of-living increase in his or her salary.

The Southern Shores Volunteer Fire Dept. is projected to cost the Town $869,934 in FY 2019-20: $545,914 in fire-protection services, pursuant to a new 10-year contract; $314,020 in debt service on the 25-year mortgage for the new $5.4 million fire station; and $10,000 for a fence to serve as a barrier between residences and the new station.

The budget for FY 2019-20 infrastructure projects is $662,340. This does not include street, bridge, waterway, and bulkhead maintenance and repairs. The projected total for all street, bridge, and canal expenses is $842,067.

No funds have been allocated for traffic reduction.

The Beacon will publish a more detailed analysis of the Town’s projected revenues and expenses, along with opinions expressed by the Mayor and Town Council and any changes made, after Tuesday’s work session. We also will analyze the proposed FY 2019-20 budget before the June 4 public hearing.

GOOD FRIDAY CLOSINGS

Dare County and Town of Southern Shores offices will be closed tomorrow, April 19, in observance of Good Friday. Public schools have been closed throughout the week for spring break.

North Carolina is one of only 12 states in the country that observe this religious holiday. The others—for those of you who are curious, as I am—are Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Louisiana, North Dakota, Texas, and Hawaii.

Easter is held on the first Sunday after the first full moon that occurs on or after the vernal equinox, which is March 20. This year, Good Friday coincides with the beginning of the Jewish observance of Passover.

The Beacon is unaware of any other Good Friday closings in Dare County. Trash collection in Southern Shores will be picked up as usual on Monday.

We hope you enjoy your weekend and any holiday that you may be observing. April is a beautiful month to be in Southern Shores.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, April 18, 2019

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