UNION — The municipal property tax and the water and sewer rates charged by the City of Union will increase in fiscal 2016-2017 under the $45.1 million budget approved by Union City Council this week.
Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve second and final reading of the 2016-2017 budget ordinance which projects a total of $45,155,350 in spending, a decrease of less than one percent from the current fiscal year. The budget summary submitted to council states that the main reason the 2016-2017 budget is lower than the current one is the projected decrease in wholesale purchase power and the projected decrease in the cost of natural gas.
The city budget consists of the General Fund, Solid Waste Management Fund, and Utility Enterprise Fund. The budget summary states that the 2016-2017 General Fund projects expenditures totaling $6,127,730, an increase of 4 percent or $212,580 over the current fiscal year. The General Fund covers the operations of the general government operations of the city such as the City of Union Public Safety Department which the summary states is 58 percent of the General Fund Budget.
The primary revenue source for the city’s general government operations is the municipal property tax which will increase by 2.6 mills to 86.8 mills in fiscal 2016-2017. The summary states the increase is based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and percentage growth in population as permitted by state law. It further states that a CPI of 1.46 percent not used in the prior year and a CPI of 1.62 percent in the current year along with no population increase allows the city to increase the millage by 2.6 mills.
Another major source of funding for the general government operations of the city are transfers from enterprise funds. The summary states that the proposed budget includes transfers from two enterprise funds to the General Fund totaling $1,840,000 or 34 percent of total projected revenues of $5,511,260.
The summary states that another source of revenue for the city, the Hospitality and Accommodations Fee “has allowed council to appropriate funds for local tourism and tourism related recreational events and projects. The fund has relieved some of the stress on the General Fund to fund these events.”
The Solid Waste Management Fund for fiscal 2016-2017 totals $758,250, a decrease of $25,980 or 3 percent less than the current budget. The budget includes no funding or capital equipment and leaves the garbage fee unchanged at $16 a month.
The Utility Enterprise Fund covers the operations of the City of Union Utility Department and will total $37,218,370 in fiscal 2016-2017, an increase of $933,000 or 3 percent over the current fiscal year. The summary states that the wholes sale costs of electricity and natural gas are projected to remain stable in fiscal 2016-2017 and therefore the rates charged the city will remain unchanged from their current level.
The water and sewer divisions of the utility department, however, are facing continued stress due to a combination of federal and state mandates and loss of the local industrial base. As a result, the proposed budget includes a 2.5 percent water rate increase based on volume and a 5 percent sewer rate increase based on volume up to 12,000 gallons.
Based on 4,000 gallons of water, that means the monthly bill for a residential water customer living within the city will increase approximately 36 cent per month and 52 cents a month for a residential customer outside the city. Also based on 4,000 gallons of water, the monthly bill for a residential sewer customer living within the city will increase approximately 88 cents a month and $.136 for a residential customer outside the city.
The water districts and fire sprinkler rates will not change.
Currently, the City of Union Utility Department provides water service to approximately 6,159 customers directly as well as supplying water to five water districts. The department also provides sewer service to approximately 4,859 customers.
The budget also includes a 2.3 percent cost of living increase for municipal employees.
In other business, council voted unanimously to approve second and final reading of an ordinance increasing the mayor’s salary from its current base level of $48,800 to $57,800.
The increase, which will not take effect until Nov. 16 following this year’s municipal elections on Nov.8 , was originally projected at $65,000. At its May 17 meeting, however, council deadlocked on this with a vote of 3-3 with council members James Wilson, Ricky Harris and Tommy Anthony voting no and council members Pamela Garner-Sloss, Robert Garner and Yates Giles voting yes. Mayor Harold Thompson did not vote as the matter concerned his salary.
Anthony then made a motion, seconded by Harris, that the increase be to $57,800. This was approved unanimously by the six council members.
Council also voted unanimously to approve second reading of an ordinance annexing a tract of land on the south side of Stutts Avenue into the city. The property is being annexed into the city with an R-10 Residential zoning classification as it is adjacent to similarly zoned properties already within the city and meets the requirements for that designation.
Council also unanimously to reappoint Eugene G. Thomas to the Housing Authority of Union Board.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.