07/15/08 — Seven Springs ends fiscal year with small budget surplus

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Seven Springs ends fiscal year with small budget surplus

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on July 15, 2008 1:51 PM

The Seven Springs town board has approved a $43,000 budget for 2008-09 that maintains the existing tax rate.

The town's ad valorem tax rate stays the same at 54 cents on the $100 of property valuation. And for the first time in years, Seven Springs Mayor Stephen Potter said, the town has ended a fiscal year with a small surplus.

"This was accomplished in spite of the fact that our income from sales tax revenue was down approximately $2,000," Potter said.

Sales taxes normally come in at about $12,000 a year and makes up 25 percent of the town's total revenue.

"So that kind of shortfall represents a serious problem for us," Potter said.

But the people who live in Seven Springs are accustomed to shortfalls and setbacks.

Ever since Hurricane Floyd came through the town in 1999 and flooded 67 families out of their homes, the town has struggled to make up for the $3,800 loss from its tax base in the value of property swept away by the floodwaters.

Most of the property owners returned -- some of them raising their houses up above the flood level. But Potter said he remembers about 10 residential properties being lost buy-outs by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. And while $3,800 doesn't sound like much, he said that is a significant amount of money for a municipality with an average budget of about $45,000 per year.

In the 2006 census, the town's population had dropped to 85.

"With there being so few of us left after the '99 flood and subsequent FEMA buyouts, it takes all of us pulling and working together to survive and thrive as a community," Potter said. "That we have done so is a credit to the people of Seven Springs."

Ever since the flood, the town has supplemented its budget with fundraisers and special events like the Ole Timey Days Festival. Potter said the 2008 Ole Timey Days Festival was a great success and raised about one-third more money with which to begin the 2009 event.

The local business community has been generous, too, he said.

"Thanks to the efforts of Ola Mae Adams, who raised funds in her restaurant to support improvements for the Town of Seven Springs, we have two new welcome signs at each end of the village on Highway 55 and one on order to go on the other side of the river," he said

Also from the fund created by Mrs. Adams' contribution, Potter said the town will be able to purchase new Christmas lights to be displayed on Main Street during the next Christmas holiday season.

And while he does not recall exactly how much Mrs. Adams gave to the town for these projects, he said it is safe to say the total investment in the signs and the Christmas lights will exceed $3,000.

Potter said the town will continue to seek donations to help provide money to support the community park and other town projects, adding that "both our park and Town Hall are in need of a substantial amount of work."