While Elkin’s department heads presented a brief financial overview and capital projects during the board’s annual retreat in February, more specific budgeting for the 2017-18 fiscal year will begin on April 25.
During the April 10 Elkin Board of Commissioners meeting, budget retreat sessions were set, with the first two being April 25 and May 2 from 2 to 5 p.m. The first of the meetings will involve all department heads, and the second will be specifically for the commissioners to meet with the town manager. Both gatherings are open to the public and will be held at town hall.
If additional work sessions become necessary, then dates for those will be set later.
The budgeting calendar puts the town manager on pace to present the budget message and proposed 2017-18 annual budget in an email to the mayor and town board on May 27. Once provided to the town elected officials, it is public for the community to review.
The June 12 regular meeting of the commissioners will include a public hearing on the proposed budget, and an anticipated approval of the budget. Law requires the final budget to be adopted by midnight on June 30.
During the budget retreat, Town Manager John Holcomb, who also serves as finance director, pointed out that 21 percent of the town’s revenue is derived from sales tax, which equates to about $1.1 million. The other $2.69 million is revenue comes from property taxes.
Commissioner Dr. Skip Whitman noted that residents in town may not realize just how much the sales tax impacts the town’s budget. “If we buy local in Surry County, if you go to Mount Airy to buy a Jeep instead of Winston, it is a tremendous benefit.
“A lot of places you can go to get stuff and stay local,” he said.
Holcomb said if the town could increases its sales tax revenues by just five percent, “it would help tremendously.”
He also said that the local governments have lost “hundreds of thousands in sales tax in North Carolina, because they didn’t have to pay sales tax online.”
In discussing the general fund overview and the amount of money in the town’s fund balance, which serves as a savings account for major projects and other emergency needs, town officials impressed the need to increase the fund balance. At present the fund balance has about 40 percent in undesignated funds, but town officials would like to see that increase to 60 percent or higher, and discussed several means of generating revenues like cutting expenses, rather than increasing taxes.
“We lost privilege licenses and the ABC allotment will be down while it pays for new construction. We’ve really got to look at our spending,” said Holcomb. “We give a lot to outside agencies, all are good things, but there comes a point where you can’t sustain yourself like that. If you don’t have a growing tax base, you’re sooner or later going to have trouble.”
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.