No Tax Increase

Published 3:21 pm Tuesday, April 22, 2014

FARMVILLE — The Town of Farmville is not planning to raise taxes.

And the Town of Farmville is not preparing to raise fees.

Town Council is considering a proposed budget that would spend $14,844,975 of the $15,514,130 the Town expects in revenue during the 2014-15 fiscal year.

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Allowing for the $414,100 in capital requests by Town department heads, the proposed budget would leave a contingency of $255,054.

Town employees are allocated a three percent raise, Christmas bonuses have been budgeted for, and all Town taxes and fees would remain at their current rate.

Town Council will consider the proposed budget during its May 7 work session and likely select a public hearing date, required by law before it can be adopted.

Town Council’s finance committee found development of the proposed budget a far less challenging task than anticipated and compliments were extended to department heads for their fiscal restraint.

“It came to a total that was reasonable,” finance committee member Dr. Edward I. Gordon told council during its April work session, when asked to report on the proposed budget.

“What we want is to make sure this year, to the best of our ability, we do not get surprises…Will there be? Most likely. But we’re trying to make everybody aware about the fact that this is what they’re going to (get) next year because we don’t expect economic times to change. We hope, like everybody, they will but we kind of feel like it’s going to be tough,” Dr. Gordon said.

“Looking at it from a finance committee point of view we feel like this budget is good…I think what we found is the different departments—everybody seems to be very well aware of the economy and I think there was a lot of constraint by the different departments on what they thought they absolutely needed and didn’t need,” the Ward A councilman said.

Some of the budgeted capital purchases include three police cars, a garbage truck and a dump truck.

The budget process, he told council members, “really didn’t turn out to be as difficult a task as we thought.”

Town Council is optimistic that the budget is built on a steady dose of pragmatic realism, not over-estimating revenue, nor under-estimating expenses.

In fact, the opposite was said to be true.

“When Gerry (Town Manager Gerald Spates) looks at the budget,” Dr. Gordon pointed out, “he looks at the revenue at the lowest point and he looks at what we’re going to spend at the highest point. So if you look at the past budgets and past years we’ve always been better than it shows on paper. Hopefully that will be the same (in the coming fiscal year).”

Looking at his fellow town council members, Dr. Gordon spoke for the finance committee, saying, “We felt like this was very fair. And everything, we felt, was very needed. And our suggestion is to accept this as stated.”

Health Insurance

Looking ahead 12 months, possible changes to the employee health insurance coverage were said to be likely, though there are no changes in the proposed budget.

Dr. Gordon said Town employees ought to be aware there is “a likelihood that insurance is going to change the following year…We may not be able to offer the same kind of policy that we offer now, with us, as a Town, picking up everything.”

But, he stressed, “now is not the time for us to decide. We just feel like we ought to let the employees know that, while they’re getting a raise this year—we’re not doing anything about insurance this year, we’re keeping insurance exactly the same—but there’s a likelihood so it’s kind of an informational thing. We would like the employees to know that a future town council will most likely look at insurance.”

Which means that in a future budget co-pays, deductibles, and family members coverage could be affected or adjusted.

But for the next year, Town of Farmville employee health insurance will remain the same.

The Airport

The proposed budget contains an allocation of approximately $330,000 for the Farmville Regional Airport.

However, replacing the municipal hangar, which is condemned and will be demolished, is not budgeted.

Town officials said there is not enough information upon which to base an appropriation.

“There are no numbers…We can’t figure it out at this point in time because…there’s no way to put into the budget something we don’t know. It’s a variable and we have to see what happens,” Dr. Gordon said. “We know we’re taking down the building and after that we have to see what is there, what the pilots think and what council thinks and what the costs are at that point.”

But “there are no numbers right now to figure into this,” Dr. Gordon said.

Spates told The Herald, “We haven’t really put anything in for what we’re going to do at the airport with that building…We don’t know what we’re going to do yet. That’s something we’re going to address later.”

During council’s March meeting, Vice-mayor Armstead D. Reid made a motion to form a committee, including pilots, to address next steps. The vote to do so was unanimous and Mayor Sydnor Newman Jr. subsequently appointed council members, Tommy Pairet, Jamie Davis and Hunter, and pilots Morgan Dunnavant and Jim Wills.