The city of Danville has finalized a modified introductory budget that is now available for public review. The budget is for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
The proposed budget follows weeks of review and adjustments by City Council following City Manager Joe King’s presentation of his initial work draft budget on March 5.
Last week proved to be a pivotal point in the process. That’s when the latest projections for personal property tax revenue increased sharply. The increase totaled $700,000, which was enough to balance the proposed budget and allow the city manager and city’s budget team to drop its earlier recommendation to increase the real estate tax rate.
The budget now goes through a series of City Council meetings, which are open for public comment.
The first of these meetings take place on Tuesday, May 7, at which time City Council will hold a public hearing on the budget for Danville Public Schools. Council is scheduled to vote on adoption of the school budget following the public hearing.
On Tuesday, May 21, City Council will hold a public hearing on the full city budget, including utilities. Final adoption of the budget, however, cannot take place at the earliest until the next regular council meeting scheduled for June 4. Council must vote to adopt a budget by June 30.
The meetings will begin at 7 p.m. and will be held in the Council Chambers on the fourth floor of the Municipal Building. Additional discussion may take place in work sessions that immediately follow the regular meetings. Work sessions are open for the public to attend, but limited to deliberation among council members.
A budget summary for the public is accessible from the city’s website – www.danville-va.gov – and hard copies will be available at the public library.
As it stands, today, the budget keeps the real estate tax rate and all other non-utility taxes, fees and charges at their current levels. At 73 cents, the real estate tax rate is the fifth lowest rate among all cities in Virginia.
The proposed budget, however, includes utility rate increases. If approved by City Council, the monthly customer charge for residential electric customers will increase by $3.80 on Aug. 1 from $4 per month to $7.80 per month. The water rate for all customers would increase from $1.57 to $2.20 per hundred cubic feet (CCF) in Fiscal Year 2014 and to $2.40 CCF in Fiscal Year 2015. The customer charge for water will increase by $1.50 per month for all water meter sizes on Aug. 1, 2013, and again on Aug. 1, 2014.
The proposed budget continues nearly all municipal services, programs and facilities at current levels. The Westover branch of the public library and the Squire Center would remain open. Early in the budget process, these two operations were recommended for closure.
Funding also has been restored for youth athletics.
The budget also sets aside $1.13 million to implement the new pay classification and compensation plan under study. Under this new plan, preliminary figures show more than half of all city employees will receive a pay adjustment in the next fiscal year.
Danville Public Schools will receive the full $17.4 million as requested by the School Board.
In addition to continued funding of essential municipal services, infrastructure, facilities and support of public schools, the proposed budget sustains support for key economic development and community programs.
A total of $4.05 million will be set aside for redevelopment of existing buildings in the River District and industrial park site development. In addition, $1.75 million is proposed to be used toward eradicating property blight.
Most of the money for these economic development and community programs will come from the issuance of bonds. The bond money also will be used to complete the new Lynn Street fire station and 911-communication center, make improvements to the adult detention center and replace the Brantley substation transformer.