DOBSON — A public hearing is set tonight on a proposed budget in the town of Dobson, one that calls for the town to maintain its current tax rate.
The hearing is set to get under way at 6 p.m., in Town Hall.
According to Town Manager Josh Smith, it has been a long time since town officials have recommended a tax increase.
“This is probably the 20th consecutive year where taxes have not increased in the town, and we’ve worked to keep all services running without a tax increase,” he said.
Once again, town officials are recommending keeping its tax rate at 38 cents per $100 in assessed value.
“Property owners with property valued at $100,000 will pay $380 a year in taxes,” he said.
Keeping the property tax steady is expected to generate around $500,000 next year, according to Smith.
Next year’s proposed budget totals $2,516,600 for all town operations, representing a 2 percent increase from the current budget of $2,466,450.
Smith said the increase is primarily due to necessary capital purchases including a police vehicle, a new public works vehicle and upgrades to the town’s telephone system.
The town has budgeted $35,000 out of its general fund budget for the expenses, and an additional $25,000 out of its water/sewer fund for the purchase of the public works vehicle.
In addition, the proposed budget calls for the purchase of a variety of firefighting equipment, a purchase Smith said he hopes to be able to fund at least partially with grant money.
The town manager noted administrators saw no need to raise taxes to fund the capital purchases, and chose to use money already tucked away in the bank.
“We have some expenses in the coming year with the needed purchases, and rather than increase taxes we’re going to take it out of savings,” Smith said.
Next year’s budget also includes funds to hire another worker in the public works department, Smith said, noting the town is running on a bare-bones staff.
“The employee will be a line worker and will assist with water line replacement, repairs and maintenance,” Smith said.
Smith said next year’s budget calls for a merit-based bonus system in the town, which will afford town employees the opportunity to receive a one-time merit bonus up to 5 percent of their annual salary.
“I believe that a merit-based reward system improves retention, morale, satisfaction and performance,” he said.
He noted the town is in good financial shape.
“The town has a reserve general fund balance close to 100 percent of annual general fund expenditures,” he said. “The state of Dobson remains strong and the future is bright.”
Keith Strange can be reached at 336-719-1929 or via Twitter @strangereporter.