Electric rates decrease four percent; property tax rate stable
Wilson’s property tax rate will stay the same in the 2017-18 proposed budget, yet Wilson Energy customers will save through a four percent electric rate decrease.
The Wilson City Council began its annual budget discussions Thursday night with the presentation of City Manager Grant Goings’ proposed budget. The spending plan is for the fiscal year that begins July 1 and ends June 30, 2018.
The proposed budget totals nearly $235 million, a decrease of nearly two percent from the current budget, and is based on a property tax rate of 55.5 cents per $100 valuation. No additional debt is recommended in the budget.
“The City’s tradition of conservative budgeting is maintained this year, allowing the City to provide high levels of service with a tax rate below our peer group average,” said Goings.
Wilson’s peer group includes Kinston, Goldsboro, Rocky Mount and Greenville. The group has an average tax rate of 61 cents per $100 valuation.
Wilson Energy customers will have a four percent electric rate reduction, made possible by a wholesale rate reduction from the City’s wholesale provider, North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency. The four percent decrease combined with the September 2015 decrease of 17.6 percent is a cumulative decrease of nearly 22 percent in the past two years. Since September 2015, Wilson Energy customers have saved $26.5 million from the rate decreases. The rate outlook is stable for the next several years.
The Police Department will add four patrol officers.
“Each year during the budget process, we carefully consider our focus on police officer call volumes and maintaining shifts at full staffing levels,” said Goings. “The Police Department had a 17 percent increase in call volumes from 2015 to 2016. The safety of Wilson residents and the department’s commitment to continuing our community policing strategy are of paramount importance to the city. Through the addition of patrol officers to the police force, we hope to continue our downward trend in the City’s crime rate.”
Last year Wilson’s crime rate decreased 5.2 percent from the previous year. Since 2010, Wilson’s crime rate has decreased nearly 14 percent.
Other highlights of the budget include:
- A $0.73 monthly increase in the water base rate and a $0.36 monthly increase in the sewer base rate.
- A $0.40 monthly increase in the stormwater fee to support infrastructure improvements, as recommended by the citizen-led Stormwater Committee.
- A $4 monthly increase in the natural gas base rate. This change only affects natural gas customers.
- Street resurfacing will remain a priority. With the new revenue source from vehicle registration fees approved by City Council last year, street resurfacing projects increased in this budget year. In the current budget year, seven additional miles of resurfacing or treatment was completed compared to previous years.
- No raises for city employees before the results of the annual audit are presented in October. This has become the city’s standard practice in recent years – to check the city’s financial status before committing to any raises. Raises have also been merit-based in recent years with no across-the-board guarantees.
The City Council will hold a budget work session during its morning meeting on Thursday, June 1, beginning at 8:30 a.m. in Council Chambers.
The public hearing on the budget will be Thursday, June 15, beginning at 7 p.m. at City Hall. State law requires the City Council to adopt the 2017-18 budget before July 1.