Correction: An earlier version of this story included an incorrect figure for city employees' cost-of-living adjustment. The proposal includes a 3.5 percent increase, not 5 percent. The correction is reflected below.
If approved by the city council next month, Statesville’s fiscal year 2013-2014 budget will increase by about $2.5 million over its current spending plan, with virtually all of the additional funds – on both the revenue and spending sides – relating to the city’s electric utility.
The city council got its first look at the $93.3 million budget proposal Monday in advance of its regular meeting. The 2012-2013 budget is expected to come in at about $90.8 million.
The general fund remains almost identical to the current year, while the electric fund – the largest in the city’s budget – increased by 5.75 percent to $48.7 million
The spending plan calls for a rate bump of 5 percent for electric utility customers, which mirrors the increase the city would pay for electricity on the wholesale market through the member organization, ElectriCities.
The budget also includes a 2 percent rate hike for water-sewer utility customers, but that increase is mostly in place to help head off costs related to a major expansion project at the Third Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Similar increases are tentatively planned for the next several years.
Some good news for the more than 400 city employees is also contained in the budget: a 3.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment, the first pay raise for city workers in five years.
There also will be no property tax increase for city residents and the rate of 41 cents per $100 of valuation will remain.
For newly named City Manager Larry Pressley, the budget was his first as he took over on an interim basis last September following the retirement of former manager Rob Hites.
“Our financial situation has greatly improved over last year,” Pressley said. He credited measures suggested by staff and adopted by the council – such as early retirement incentives, a workforce hiring freeze and a reconfiguration of garbage pickup – for turning the tide.
A public hearing on the budget – as required by state law – will be held at the city council’s regular meeting on May 20. City residents wishing to comment on the spending plan are encouraged to do so then.