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Committee weighs budget needs, wants in Halifax

Preliminary discussions are getting underway about what needs and wants will be included in the upcoming 2014-15 Halifax Town budget.

Halifax Town Council Finance Committee members were scheduled to meet with Town Manager Carl Espy Wednesday afternoon to discuss what items they’d liked to include in the budget, but only one member showed up.

Finance Committee Chairman Dennis Witt and Espy tossed around preliminary budget considerations needed to be addressed in the 2014-2015 fiscal year budget.

Included in the talks were the Banister River Gateway Project’s estimated balances for expense line items in streets and administration along with corresponding drawdown reimbursements and interim financing activities until the grant project closeout.

Other budget considerations include leveling funding of $11,000 for the Halifax branch of the Halifax County Public Library, matching Virginia Commission for the Arts local government challenge grant funds for The Prizery, matching Halifax tourism funds and Halifax Area Regional Transit (HART) bus service funds.

The annual payment for lease or purchase of town vehicles also must be addressed in the budget.

Several personnel issues to be addressed in the budget including the following:

Provide a 1 percent adjustment to employees salaries to offset the contribution to the Virginia Retirement System that is no longer made by the employer;

 Change the status of one sanitation employee and one police department employee from part-time to full-time;

 Consider giving merit raises to existing full-time employees;

 Covering the 5 percent increase in premium for the TLC–Anthem hospitalization and VML-IP disability coverage.

During the meeting Wednesday, Espy and Witt reviewed proposed revenue projections for the 2014-2015 fiscal year budget.

According to the projections, the town’s general revenue is expected to be $1,446,078, a 9.27 percent decrease from the 2013-2014 fiscal year amended budget’s general revenue of $1,593,777.

The general revenue projection includes the following:

 1.64 percent decrease in personal property taxes;

 3.7 percent decrease in automobile fees;

 12.69 percent increase in bank stock tax;

 8.57 increase in business license fees;

 10.59 percent increase police court fines and costs;

 20 percent decrease in interest income;

 33.33 percent increase in farmers market income;

 1.42 percent decrease in real estate taxes;

 8.57 increase in rolling road stock tax;

 11.11 decrease in general sales tax;

 1.96 percent increase in meal tax;

 19.67 percent decrease in SAFETEA-LU grant funding;

 20 percent decrease in the reserve general fund;

 25 percent decrease in funds carried over from the previous fiscal year;

 100 percent decrease in the sale of assets.

Business development expenses are projected to be $29,750, a 22.68 percent increase from the 2013-2014 fiscal year’s amended budget.

Business development expenses include a 25 percent increase in farmers market development and a 100 percent increase in the business development contingency expenses.

Total municipal expenses are expected to be $47,300, a 4.08 decrease from the 2013-2014 fiscal year amended budget. 

Municipal expenses include a projected $15,700 in utilities, a 6.73 percent increase from the 2013-2014 fiscal year amended budget, and a projected $31,600 in building expenses, a 8.67 decrease from the 2013 -2014 fiscal year amended budget.

Fire department expenses are projected to be $39,350, a 12.65 percent decrease from the 2013-2014 fiscal year amended budget, and total street department expenses are projected to be $496,000, a 19.42 decrease from the 2013-2014 fiscal amended budget. 

At the conclusion on the meeting, Espy and Witt agreed the committee would meet again to further discuss the budget on April 3 at 1:30 p.m.