Coats Up Next To Vote On Budget

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The Town of Coats will join other municipalities in making budget decisions for the upcoming fiscal year when the board of commissioners meets Thursday at 7 p.m. in the town hall board room at 25 E. Main St. A public hearing will be held during the first part of the meeting.

If the proposed budget is approved, residents will see no increases in property taxes or garbage fees. The flat rate water bill will increase by 40 cents to allow the town to build savings in the water fund. In his budget message, Town Manager Nick Holcomb reported this will better prepare the town to pay for needed water line improvements found in the Capital Improvement Plan.

The town’s proposed budget is balanced at $1.7 million.

“The budget sets council’s top priorities all while granting departmental requests required for town departments to maintain their level of service,” Mr. Holcomb reported.

In his message, Mr. Holcomb noted the revaluation in 2017 for Coats decreased the total amount of property tax revenue available to the town. He said despite this, the 2018-19 ad valorem tax rate is proposed to remain at 59 cents per $100 property valuation.

The total tax base is $102.7 million and each penny of the town’s property tax generates $10,267.

Development growth is trending upward in Coats, Mr. Holcomb said. A steady incline of growth and development projects (retail and residential) will add value to the tax base, without causing a strain on personnel, equipment and other expenses. The proposed budget includes revenue projections, which account for a slight growth.

A significant increase of sales tax revenue is expected to continue into the next fiscal year. The town is anticipating an approximate 3 percent increase from the 2016-17 actual revenues received from sales tax.

Town employees will see a cost-of-living salary increase of 3 percent across the board.

The Coats Police Department has requested $36,976 for a series of three capital items. The primary expense is the purchase of a new Dodge Ram SSV truck. This truck, along with accessories, will amount to a total cost of $32,500.

In addition, cages are requested to be installed in two patrol vehicles. The cages are needed for safety and liability purposes. Also, the officers’ current handguns are 10 years old and it is recommended that these be replaced with new handguns. After trade-in value of the current weapons, the cost amounts to less than $1,000.

Other general fund expenditures include a John Deere Gator, at an approximate cost of $12,000, as requested by the street department. This vehicle will better assist the crew during maintenance of local street right-of-ways. The cost of the vehicle will be evenly divided between the street department and water fund, because the vehicle will also be utilized for reading water meters.

A major increase in the 2018-19 budget proposal compared to prior year budgets is found in the planning and zoning department. The board has set a priority to clean up several dilapidated structures that present a hazard to public health and safety.

To begin confronting this problem, $25,000 has been requested in outside contracts to deal with removal of such structures. There is an additional $7,000 in professional services that would be available to assist with associated costs, such as title searches, inspections and advertising.

Other expenses include a number of one-time and reoccurring costs associated with transferring IT services to Harnett County. The one-time cost of $6,000 is for the upgrading network switch and to purchase IP phones.

General fund revenues and expenditures are balanced at $1.06 million.

“After undertaking a large capital project of the public works building, the town has made efforts to limit capital purchases without reducing the ability to provide services,” Mr. Holcomb said.

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