05/29/11 — Mount Olive sets hearing on budget

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Mount Olive sets hearing on budget

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 29, 2011 1:50 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Town commissioners met for less than 15 minutes Thursday night to accept the town's $4.7 million draft budget and establish a public hearing on the proposal for June 6.

The budget public hearing is expected to be the first item on the agenda when the board meets at 7 p.m. in the courtroom at town hall, said Town Manager Charles Brown.

The board is expected to adopt the budget following the hearing.

There is no increase in the tax rate of 59 cents per $100 of value, despite the county's revaluation this year, and the budget continues the town's hiring freeze and does not include any salary increases.

However, Brown said that the town hopes to revisit salaries, possibly by the end of the calendar year.

The budget proposal anticipates $2.6 million in the general fund and $2.1 million in the water/sewer fund.

"I am going to ask each one of you to take your budget, look at it, make an appointment with Charles or (City Clerk) Mrs. (Arlene) Talton if you have any questions and be sure you understand it," said Mayor Ray McDonald Sr. "I do not want to get in a situation like we did last year. We got in and everybody said, 'What happened?'

"We need to know this budget and what is going on because this is one of those times, and I hate to tell you all, I am not too sure about the budget with what the state is doing. But we have to approve a budget with the understanding that we can amend the budget during the year if we need to."

McDonald was referring to budgeting and cash flow problems earlier this year that forced the town to hold checks, in some cases for several weeks, because the town lacked the funds in the bank.

Brown reminded board members that the budget revenue sheets were the main things to look at in both the general and water and sewer fund.

"You will notice there is a provision in both of those, and it is highlighted in red, for contributions to a fund balance," he said. "I think everybody has done a good job putting their budgets together. Notice that almost every department shows a decrease in spending even from last year's levels."

McDonald said the fund balance is "if everything is perfect, but that does not mean that everything is going to be perfect."

The proposal includes $378,329 from the general fund and $274,325 from the water/sewer fund for the fund balance.

Copies of the budget proposal are available for public inspection in Brown's and Mrs. Talton's offices at town hall during regular business hours.

Brown said there are some anticipated revenues that are not included in the budget "because we are not certain of them."

Following the meeting, Brown said new Internet sweepstakes businesses have opened in the town that could generate $38,000 to $40,000. Also unaccounted for in the budget will be additional tax revenues associated with the new Auto Zone and Walgreens.

"We feel like we have a little cushion over what we projected," he said. "We tried to be as conservative with our revenues as we could be. The state, while it can impact our sales tax revenue that is really the biggest thing that have an impact on.

"On the county level you are talking about education money, social service money so it would hurt us on our sales tax, but we are not quite as at-risk as the county. We feel we have a little breathing room that we didn't have last year."