City Manager Scott Hildebran presented his FY 2021-2022 Recommended Budget to City Council Tuesday, May 18, 2021.
The budget addresses Council priorities determined during the February 2021 retreat and during Council and departmental meetings held during the past year. The top priority of Council for the past few years has been to offer competitive compensation and benefits to City staff. Other priorities include addressing appearance issues in the City, paving streets and greenway, code enforcement, and improvements to the City's water and sewer system.
The proposed General Fund budget totals $18,594,890. The General Fund budget includes all basic city services including police, fire, public works, parks and recreation, and administrative services. The budget includes a 3% cost of living raise for City employees; $590,000 for street paving; $125,000 for greenway paving and planning; $60,750 for code enforcement, demolition, and property clean up; new vehicles for several departments, and improvements to the Lenoir Aquatic & Fitness Center and the Martin Luther King Jr. Center.
The proposed Water/Sewer Fund budget totals $9,629,744 and includes a 2% increase in water and sewer rates. The City did not increase rates last year due to the pandemic. This year's increase is equivalent to a 1% increase last year and this year. All other Water/Sewer Fund charges and fees are unchanged.
Due to Caldwell County's revaluation last year, Hildebran recommended a reduced property tax rate of 57¢ per $100 of assessed value and a reduced Downtown Municipal Service District tax rate of 20¢ per $100 of assessed value. The Rescue Readiness Tax is recommended to leave the rate at .85¢ per $100.
Under North Carolina law, counties must conduct a revaluation of all real property (land, buildings, and other improvements) within the county at least every eight years. The purpose of revaluation is to re-establish equity among properties that may have appreciated or depreciated in value at different rates since the county's last revaluation.
Based on the revaluation, there was a 9% increase in assessed values for real property in the City, but values for the three other components of the City tax base - personal property, registered motor vehicles, and public service companies - went down or showed modest increases.
"Overall, the combined actual values of the City's total tax base is relatively unchanged from 2020 to 2021," Hildebran said.
The FY 2021-2022 Recommended Budget and budget presentation are online at www.cityoflenoir.com/budgetproposal.
City Council will hold a budget workshop at 6:00 p.m. Thursday, May 20, at City Hall.
General Fund Charts
The pie charts below show the breakdown of general fund expenses and revenues in the recommended budget.
General Fund Expenses Chart
More than 50% of general fund expenses go to Police and Fire services. The third largest expense is Public Works, which includes garbage collection and street paving and maintenance, followed by Parks & Recreation. The remaining expenses are administrative, finance, legal, and planning.
General Fund Revenues Chart
Nearly half of all City of Lenoir revenues come from real property taxes. But, more than half, 51%, of City revenues come from sales taxes, utilities franchise taxes, solid waste fees, and other revenues.