Archived Story

Franklin tax increase could be on table

Published 10:22am Wednesday, April 23, 2014

FRANKLIN—In the initial 2014-15 budget update, City Manager Randy Martin was showing a revenue shortfall, which may have to be made up by a tax increase.

Martin said there are sources of revenue other than property tax increases, and it was his goal to not increase the tax rate. His update to the board did compare certain increases to how they would affect the tax rate, however. His preliminary budget compares primary budget drivers to a 17-cent tax increase.

“This is not a final budget, so I’d like to add a disclaimer that there are many variables and moving pieces at this point,” he said. “In the coming weeks, we will finalize the budget and make recommendations.”

He said the suggestion could include a tax increase, but that is not a guarantee.

One of the major general fund budget drivers is property values, Martin said, and they are projected to fall 8 percent in Franklin. If that occurs, Franklin could lose $432,000 in revenue.

Martin said that with an 8-cent increase, residents wouldn’t pay more than they did last year. As an example, a property worth $140,000 in 2013 would have levied $1,260 in taxes at the current 90-cent rate. In 2014, that property would be devalued to $128,000 if trends hold true, and it would levy $1,262.24 at 98 cents.

Funding the Western Tidewater Regional Jail will also be more expensive. The jail is refinancing its debt, and that could save Franklin $34,015 over time. Current projections that do not include this figure have the costs going up $408,580. Taxes would have to go up 7 cents to recoup that, should the city pursue the option.

School debt will also increase $172,000, which will be on top of the superintendent’s requested budget that has yet to be finalized. To recover it through taxes would cost the city approximately 2 cents.

The superintendent is requesting approximately $4.8 million in local funds, which is the base rate plus a carryover of $345,599. The budget does not include the $272,613 additional in funds that the school board is requesting, which is in part to pay for a 2 percent salary increase for teachers.

Additional budget drivers include a salary adjustment of 1.1 percent to cover the required employment retirement contribution, which is the third-year incremental increase as part of a state mandate.

Health insurance is also going up a projected 6.8 percent.

The projected increase in the Industrial Corridor Revenue Sharing contribution to Southampton County is $100,000. The projected increase in the Department of Social Services local match is $69,675, and the projected increase in the Comprehensive Services Act local match is $60,790.

Community agencies that receive funding from Franklin are requested an increase of $71,496.

Building and maintenance requests are at $202,000.

Street and Utility and Water and Sewer are seeking excavating equipment worth $90,000.

Department personnel related requests are at $159,047.

Martin said he would work to make recommendations to balance the budget.

Revenues are expected to be approximately $21 million, while expenditures are expected to be approximately $23 million. The variance is $2,432,974.

If Martin decides to recommend the 17-cent increase due to the major budget drivers of real estate property value reduction, increase in jail administration costs and school debt increases, the city’s general fund would be $1,012,560 closer to a balanced budget.

“There are obviously going to have to be cuts,” Martin said. “Some of these funds are just what people are asking for. We also have reserve funds, but, the less you use of those, the longer they last. It’s another factor to weight.

“I’ve never had a year where balancing the budget was easy. It’s a balancing act. Literally.”

  • rmcclenny

    Thanks for the props! But you are absolutely right about being taxed to death. The only good thing I’ve done is exposed some of the underhanded deals that go on in city hall and the police department. The one member of the police department doesn’t get to drive his car home in IOW anymore, but makes it up in other ways far beyond the cost of gas. This was brought to the city managers and councils attention, but just brushed under the rug. They really don’t care about YOUR money.

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  • simplifyingit

    here comes Randy Martin digging into our pockets again! He’s purchased new police cars, new utilities trucks, added jobs throughout the city and keeps asking for more. The taxpayer cannot pat anymore and continue to live in the COF Mr Martin!!! If the value of our property is falling why should we pay you more? you’re failing and want a bonus of sorts?????
    How about cut the 9 new unneeded firefighters who now you’re begging Rex Alphin for IOW back to help justify or use police cars ONLY for city purposes? Some officers live all the way in Suffolk and drive their cars home!! Mileage that lessens the lifetime of the car, not to mention the added costs of tire replacement, oil changes, and other wear & tear!It’s time to cut costs like the flower bed maintenance guy in public works! Really? We don’t have a student group or civic club that would take on that role? How about trash truck drivers/workers that understand not to drop the trash cans back into the MIDDLE of our driveways!! Or will actually get out of truck and pick up something that falls out? If you expect more $$$$$………SO DO WE expect more from YOU!!!! Stop smiling and shaking hands and kissing babies and CUT COSTS if you want COF to have more & better citizens and more business. Stop building bathrooms at Barretts Landing and Train Station “museums” for visitors we don’t have! Get off your hiney and save your citizens some money! We can’t pay anymore without filing for bankruptcy!!
    Franklin will never recover and be the high middle class city it was in the 70′s and 80′s if you continue to tax us to death and live off grants from the state & federal govt! Those grants require you to have “less than stellar” citizens, one’s who live off “entitlements” as your general population. Wake up and wise up man!!! Do whats right for our future and not what’s been going on for the last decade or so!!

    rant over for now, unless i have to show up in your office or a city council meeting???? You make that choice, but when i come i’m bringing the whole show not just the Saturday matinee!!???? If you think McCleeney is a thorn in someone’s side, wait til i open the can.

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