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No tax increase in City of Lenoir budget

LENOIR, NC (May 24, 2019) — City of Lenoir City Manager Scott Hildebran presented his 2019-2020 budget to Council Tuesday night, May 21, 2019.

There is no proposed tax increase in the general fund budget. Hildebran and Donna Bean, Finance Director, balanced the budget with current tax rates. The city property tax is $0.58 cents and the Rescue Readiness Tax of $0.0085 cents. The budget does include a $1.00 per month increase in the solid waste fee to help fund a second brush truck.

The Water Fund and Wastewater Fund include a 1.1% water rate increase and 2.5% sewer rate increase. The increases would cost an extra $0.87 on a monthly bill for 5,000 gallons of water. Hildebran said the increase will fund past and future improvements to both systems.

The 2019-2020 budget addresses priorities Council set earlier this year.

“This budget was developed based on priorities you [Council] set back in February and March at our council retreats,” Hildebran said. “Your highest priorities were employee compensation, housing, healthy infrastructure, economic development, US 321 and community beautification, and public engagement.”

Hildebran proposed a 3.0% cost of living increase to continue addressing employee compensation. The budget also funds a 1.2% increase for the state’s Local Government Retirement System.

Public Works will have $385,000 for street resurfacing. The budget also allocates Community Development Block Grant Funds for improvements to the Lenoir High School auditorium, gym and Mack Cook Stadium.

Hildebran said his budget proposal does not use any city fund balance. Fund balance is the city savings account. The budget maintains a general fund balance of more than 50% exceeding Council’s goal of 24%.

The proposal includes funding for building demolition, nuisance removal, and strategic foreclosure expenses. Staff will address several infrastructure improvements next year. The budget funds roof repairs for Public Works, the Police department, Fire Station II, and the Rhodhiss Water Plant. Staff also plans to rehab the tennis courts at Martin Luther King Jr. Center.

“I would like to recognize the efforts of Finance Director Donna Bean, as she has been instrumental in the preparation of this document. Her thoroughness and guidance are appreciated,” Hildebran said. “I would also like to express my thanks to the Department Directors, Team Lenoir and City Council for their patience, understanding, and dedicated work. Our primary goal, each and every day, via our employee-led customer service initiative, remains to provide “Service Beyond Measure.”

Hildebran’s budget message and budget proposal are available online at www.cityoflenoir.com/budgetproposal.

City Council will hold a public hearing on the budget during the June 4 Council meeting.