Salisbury Mayor Proposes Property Tax Rate Hike

SALISBURY – The City Council and the public received the mayor’s fiscal year 2013 proposed budget this week.

Mayor Jim Ireton started off the presentation reviewing the assessable base of the city, the actual value of all of the property within the city limits. The assessable value is close to what it was in 2008, which is $2.1 million. It increased in 2009 by about 10 percent, again in 2010 by about 8.7 percent, but in 2011 decreased by 6.8 percent. The value is estimated to increase by 6.8 percent this year and another 1 percent next year.

Ireton explained a decrease of $221 million in the assessable base has been seen in the last three years and the loss in property tax revenue has been $1.728 million. The city’s assessable base has shrunk 16.4 percent in three years.

“Because of the decrease in the last three years, department heads have slashed from their operating budget $1.6 million, that is about an 18-percent cut,” Ireton said. “Basically of the $30 million that we have in the General Fund, a third of that, about $10 million is for operating costs, the rest of it is salaries.”

There has been $4.622 million saved through budget cuts, furlough days, and frozen or unfunded positions. There are no proposed furloughs in this year’s budget, but there is a 3-percent increase in health insurance.

As far as taxes and fees included in the mayor’s proposed budget, he is not suggesting increases in water and sewer rates, as well as landlord registration fees, but after four consecutive years of no increases there is a 1.5-cent increase on the property tax rate.

The budget includes the proposed increases for tax levy set at. 834 per $100 of assessed valuation of all real property and $2.07 per $100 of assessed personal property.

City priorities include $168,000 for five police vehicles and equipment, $31,000 for Police Officer 1 and Police Officer 1st class rank advancements.

“What we are trying to do is when the economy starts to pick up we are going to be trying to keep our officers by slowly burdening the pay parody gap, now that $31,000 only gets us one year of the people that are at five years going down to four years, and the people at 10 years going down to nine,” Ireton said.

The next priorities listed were Emergency Medical Services — $48,000 for one ambulance and $25,000 for portable radio replacement, which is half of the radios.

Other priorities include infrastructure and neighborhood integrity — $50,000 for city-wide dam safety repairs; $15,000 for S. Division Street bridge repairs; $40,000 for one sanitation vehicle or trash truck; $35,000 for waste removable vehicle or dump truck; $750,000 for Street Maintenance Program; $512,000 for street paving; $201,000 for street sweeping; $864,000 for street lighting; $50,000 for structural inspection and repairs on Salisbury Marina piers and bulk heads; and $7,500 for city wide playground maintenance.

The council voted unanimously to set a public hearing date for the proposed FY13 budget be held on May 14. Next a motion was made to set the public hearing date for the constant yield tax rate, which is .828, to be held the same day following the budget hearing, and the council unanimously agreed.