Proposed Lenoir budget calls for tax, water, sewer increases

May. 21, 2014 @ 10:24 AM

Due to pressing infrastructure and street resurfacing needs, Lenoir’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2014-2015 calls for a one-cent tax increase, a 1.2-percent water rate increase and a 2 percent sewer rate increase, city officials said Tuesday night.

The increases would bring Lenoir’s property tax rate to 57 cents for every $100 of assessed property value.

City Manager Lane Bailey presented the proposed budget at Tuesday night’s city council meeting, where the council set a public hearing for June 3 at 6 p.m.

Revenues from the one-cent tax increase would be slated for street resurfacing, Bailey said, but some might be used for ongoing stormwater repairs on Harper and West avenues downtown.

It’s the second year in a row the city has not followed its capital improvements plan, which projected a two-cent tax increase.

Bailey said that may point to a need at some point for larger tax increase to catch up with the projects in the capital plan.

The budget also includes a debt package for purchasing public works and police vehicles, and a $50,000 match by the city for a grant to fund expansion of the Lenoir Greenway.

The city could also lose $125,000 a year if the General Assembly adopts a bill that sharply limits what cities can charge for business privilege licenses.

In other business, the council also awarded a construction bid of nearly $3.5 million to Gilbert Engineering Co. for improvements at the city’s Gunpowder Creek Wastewater Treatment Plan, contingent on approval by the Division of Water Infrastructure at the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The bid price was roughly $300,000 above what the city expected, Bailey said, partly due to a piece of equipment that is provided by only one supplier. NCDENR could provide a no-percent interest loan for $320,000 to cover that, Bailey said.

The council also set the stage for the demolition of 731 Stage St. for violating minimum housing standards.