To the Editor,
Comments on three subjects related to the recent City of Mount Airy City Commission Retreat are in order. I offer them not only as a great admirer of the City of Mount Airy, but as a local government management professional of over 57 years experience.
The first has to do with the comment in The Mount Airy News coverage of the Retreat referring to no reduction in the Property Tax rate in the current Fiscal Year, 2012-2013. A de facto reduction of 1.5 cents on the tax rate was caused by a reduction in the Property Tax Base by $150,000 through the State mandated quadannual countywide real property assessment, and the City Commission’s decision not to make such tax base reduction revenue neutral by increasing the property tax rate by 1.5 cents.
The second has to do with the laudable presentation of the City Manager and the Department Heads concerning the crisis caused by multi-year deferral of much needed capital improvements for continued first class municipal services.
The presentation, the five year listing of capital items of replacement and additions to major equipment and apparatus; major repairs, replacements and additions to buildings and facilities; improvements, replacements, and additions to infrastructure such as streets, storm drainage components, and sidewalks, and water mains and sanitary sewer mains, was an abbreviated version of the first five years of a Long Range Capital Improvements Plan, one of the components of a proper municipal Comprehensive Plan. Such a component was originally adopted by the Town Commission of Mount Airy effective FY 1962-1963.
At some point after that, to the loss of the City of Mount Airy, the annual revision of such a planning component was dropped. It realistically projected capital outlay needs for five years in advance in detail, including sources of financing, and the following 10 years in abbreviated form, thus avoiding the faulty practice of postponing significant decisions of a capital improvement need nature year after year, endangering service capabilities, facilities and infrastructure components.
The third has to do with further reducing the City of Mount Airy Property Tax Rate in the Fiscal Year 2013-2014. The termination of payment of State Collected/Locally Shared Taxes in the amount of $200,000, the equivalent of two cents reduction of the Mount Airy Property Tax, combined with capital improvements needs caused by the multi-year deferral of a significant portion of such needs would seem to call for favorable consideration of at least for the near future maintaining the present Property Tax rate.
Peter F. Lydens