Yadkinville, East Bend project modest budget increases

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Property tax, water and sewer rates will remain unchanged in the municipalities of Yadkinville and East Bend for the coming year, if each town’s council approves proposals set to go into effect July 1.

The property tax rate in East Bend will remain at 50 cents per $100 of property valuation; in Yadkinville, it will hold steady at 42 cents per $100.

Yadkinville projects general fund spending to be up 6% this year with expenses totaling nearly $2.9 million, versus $2.7 million last year. The town will use $43,000 from its reserves — equivalent to 1% of the town’s fund balance — for one-time projects related to roads and parks, Yadkinville Town Manager Mike Koser said.

“The board is comfortable with this and supportive of this because the fund balance has actually increased over the past couple of years because of being very conservative with their spending,” he said.

Of note in this year’s budget proposal is the news that Hinshaw Gardens’ operating costs — usually funded from interest on a $100,000 donation from Lucy Crater in 1980 — will mostly need to draw from the donation’s fund balance itself due to reduced interest revenues and low interest rates.

The garden will tally nearly $6,000 in operating expenses this year, leaving the garden’s fund balance around $64,570 at the end of the fiscal year, Koser estimated, adding that should the garden fund ever be depleted, the town would continue to support the garden.

Other projected spending increases in Yadkinville are a nearly 16% spike in employee Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance premiums.

“I understand we have had higher than our historical normal utilization over the past year, so the rate increase is reflective of that,” said Koser, adding that the policy is a top feature for hiring and retention of town employees.

The police department budget reflects a rising price tag for ammunition.

“I think it is common knowledge that there has been a surge by all sectors of the population to purchase and even stockpile ammunition,” Koser said. “With only a limited number of manufacturers, a slowing in the supply chain coupled with the increase in demand, the price has risen. Our police are very well trained and work hard to retain their certifications and skills. This requires that they conduct regular practice with all of their equipment, including their firearms.”

The town has budgeted for an average of 4% for merit-based employee pay increases, with a maximum allowed increase of 5% for high performers.

The Yadkinville Town Council will vote on the proposed budget at its meeting Monday, June 7.

East Bend plans modest spending increases

Overall, the proposed budget for East Bend projects spending for its 2021-22 fiscal year to be up 5% over last year. With an annual general fund budget projected at $385,880, the town expects to spend more on police, road repairs and employee retirement benefit costs in the coming year.

Police spending is slated to increase 7.4% over last year, from $115,525 to $124,025. Additional expenses are for a part-time position, uniforms and supplies. Spending on streets and roads will increase 15.1%, from $36,050 last year to $42,010 this year, with increases projected to go toward maintenance and repairs, supplies and contracted services.

Mayor Archie Hicks said the town has budgeted for a part-time police officer, but the position is proving difficult to fill.

“It’s hard to find a qualified candidate anymore because a lot of people don’t want to go into police work to start with, and if they do, they want full time,” he said.

Planned road repairs are due to normal wear and tear, Hicks said.

“We have one road in bad need of repair behind the manufacturing facility here in town,” he said.

The East Bend spending increases will be covered by a projected increase of local sales tax revenues, expected to be up from $101,000 last year to $120,000 for the coming fiscal year, which is an 18.8% increase. Most of the projected increase is actually due to an overly conservative sales tax revenue estimate from last year, Hicks said.

East Bend has not proposed any wage increases but plans to give employees a 1.5% one-time bonus, Hicks said. Some area government entities are giving employees sustained — not one-time — pay increases, including the town of Jonesville and Yadkin County.

East Bend is also expecting to receive federal stimulus funds, which are not yet earmarked for spending. Hicks said he has been in regular communication with state leaders in Raleigh and current estimates are that East Bend may receive around $170,000.

A public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled for June 14 at the East Bend library.

Lisa Michals may be reached at 336-448-4968 or follow her on Twitter @lisamichals3.

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