DOBSON — On the eve of budget season in the town of Dobson, officials say residents should be able to rest easy.
“It’s a little early in the process, but I’d say that there is very little chance of a tax increase in the town this year,” Town Manager Josh Smith said Wednesday morning. “We’re going to do everything in our power to maintain our current tax rate next year, and unless something drastically changes, I see no reason to change our tax rate.”
With a mandated date of June 30 to have a budget approved, Smith said town officials are looking at actual numbers versus projections this year to get an idea of where the town stands fiscally.
“The budget process is really a year-long ordeal that begins with monitoring and comparing numbers with projections we’ve come up with,” he said. “It’s not an exact science, but throughout the year, we compare numbers with our forecasts.”
Dobson has a combined general fund and water/sewer fund budget of about $2.5 million, with about $1.5 million in unrestricted funds. The town has a property tax rate of 38 cents per $100 valuation.
While town officials are in the process of beginning to look at next year’s numbers, Smith said work will begin in earnest in April, although elected leaders will get a little heads-up next week.
“During our March meeting we will begin to look at projected numbers for the upcoming year and will compare that to where we are to date when looking out our proposed numbers,” he said.
But that doesn’t mean the March look at the budget will resemble the final budget approved for the town.
“It’s extremely preliminary, and 99 percent of the time those numbers change drastically before the final budget is approved,” Smith said.
The update for the board of commissioners during the March 21 meeting will follow a wish-list presented to town leaders from the heads of the various departments.
“Any capital requests that exceed $5,000 will be considered, things like equipment and vehicle purchases or construction equipment,” Smith added. “Those are big-ticket items that we will look at to see whether we can incorporate them into our budget. A lot of the time those purchases determine whether increases are necessary.”
According to the town manager, continuation of services and improvements to the town’s water and sewer system are at the top of the list for next year.
“Service continuation is always priority one,” he said. “We provide police protection, garbage pick-up and recycling services, to name a few, and continuing to provide those kinds of services will be our primary goal.”
While he doesn’t foresee any major purchases at this time, Smith said one area is going to need some attention.
“The only changes I foresee will involve the water/sewer fund, where we’re facing some pretty hefty infrastructure improvements,” he said.
Smith said the town’s aging system is facing “problems across the board.”
“We’re talking about things like pumping stations that are in dire need of upgrade and/or repair,” he said. “We’re to the point that we’re running the risk of things like complete failure, overflows or environmental hazards.”
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.