Thursday, June 08, 2006
I refuse to believe that there are no other areas in which to cut spending
The Selma Town Council has met in another budget work session and has come up empty on places in which to cut the budget. For some reason, I find it hard to believe that the town just can not find ways to cut more.
The town does have certain responsibilities to the citizens of Selma. Those are "no brainers" and come first. Essential services always come first. Then, extra services and conveniences are the focus. Obviously, we must refrain from overspending on the essentials.
Part of the budget problem, as it was explained to me, is that in years past, [The rest of this paragraph and the next two deleted by Troy because I was informed by a town council member that the information I received was inaccurate. I did not want to perpetuate a falsehood. The budget was short by over $400K, even with a transfer of money from the utility fund into the general fund.]
The proposed budget must lay open to public inspection at least 10 days before a public hearing is held, and I am sure that I could find more areas in which to cut spending. People may not like it, but it can be done.
The council is considering raising the tax rate to $.62 per $100 property value(approximately) from $.44. That is a 40% jump.
According to epodunk.com, the median income in Selma is $23,856. For those who own property in town on that $24K a year approx. income, that is a bite. At the time of the 2000 census, the per capita income in Selma was $12,101, compared with $21,587 nationally. Median rent in Selma, at the time of the 2000 Census, was $349. Monthly homeowner costs, for people with mortgages, were $793.
With the above stats, keep these things in mind. Selma residents are 60% renters. The state averages a 69.4% ownership rate. Johnston County's ownership rate is 73.4%, ranking us 66th out of the 100 counties in NC. That thus, I will assume that the remaining 26.6% of Johnston County residents are living in rental housing. Selma is pretty much out of proportion to the county overall rate and even more so with the state rate. That means that the tax burden is on the rest of us in town for services that many renters are taking advantage of. I realize that the property owners who rent housing will most likely end up passing the increase of the tax rate onto the renters.
Thankfully, my mortgage is less than the average listed in the 2000 census. My morgage rate will go up $12.75 or so per month with the proposed tax increase. That's $153 in estimated, round numbers annually. Many people will have a higher increase, others lower, based upon their property values. I could not find stats for Selma, but did find that the median property value for Johnston County homes is $108,800. That means that if (and that is a big if) the Johnston County average did actually apply to Selma, the median increase would be $195 per year.
I can afford $13 a month more. Actually, my mortgage will go up about $26 a month, since the escrow account will be short for the first year's increase, and the mortgage company will be paying the difference. The second year, I get hit with the increase plus the shortage for the previous year, so the tax rate differential will be twice as bad for one year.
Tax increase, staff cuts likely to balance Selma's budget
By Kelly Lake, News Editor 06.JUN.06
A tax hike and staff reductions are likely ways Selma's town council will balance the town's budget for the next fiscal year.
A three and a half hour budget work session today (Tuesday) yielded no new budget cuts, however, Town Manager Stan Farmer is expected to present a balanced budget to the council Friday afternoon.