© 2024. Randolph Hub. All Rights Reserved.


City budget

Janet Imrick

Randolph Hub


ASHEBORO — Members of the public got to have their say on the proposed budget for the new fiscal year last week when Mayor David Smith and city council members held public comment for the 2023-24 budget on Thursday, June 15.


Some citizens and business owners questioned the need to raise the tax rate to 72 cents per $100 of valuation, up from $0.665 (66.5 cents).


Finance Director Debbie Reaves presented the latest fund allocation proposal for $73,165,165. She said that 93 percent of estimated real property tax revenue, budgeted at $22,809,677, goes toward all public safety services, with $12,167,941 for the police department and $8,376,930 for Asheboro Fire and Rescue.


She said that the tax rate was not a request she took lightly. "I don't know how to reduce that tax rate without cutting resources that are valuable to the community,” she said.


In her presentation, she discussed the decision not to follow the Randolph County's plan to remain revenue-neutral. "We're both government, but we're different. We have a different tax base," she said. For example, she said that the highest-valued neighborhood is outside city limits, and the county also adds a rate for fire protection services.


Another issue she brought up was inflation's impact on the purchase of gas and new vehicles and equipment. "A garbage truck that costs $280,000-$300,000 two years ago is $400,000 now," she said.


Water and sewer would be $22,815,565, with no rate changes recommended. Of that, $1,392,500 would go toward economic development and community support. There would be a 5 percent cost-of-living-adjustment for city employees.


Assistant Chief of Police Robbie Brown and Fire Chief Willie Summers said when it comes to hiring and retaining highly trained officers and firefighters, North Carolina communities are all competing for a shrinking pool of recruits.


Summers talked about Asheboro Fire and Rescue's ISO 1 rating, which fewer than 1 percent of departments across the country have attained and brings down insurance premiums. He said, "More important than that ISO rating is service delivery. When that bell goes off, we want to be there."


Brown said they filled all their vacancies this year, but many officers are still in the training process. "Theoretically we're 19 short because those officers we recently hired are not on the road," he said.


During public comment, Barry Betts said the request to raise the tax rate comes on the heels of his storage facility business coming under the county's revaluation. He said, "I think you're going to put a lot of small businesses out of business. We can't absorb this. My costs are unbelievable."


"With the revaluation of the home, our taxes are going up significantly," Phil Cooper said. "It's all in one shot. It's a lot to handle. With all the objectives you have here, there have to be some that are discretionary."


Bob Derr said it would be a greater financial burden on taxpayers than it says on paper. He said, "Just remember who's paying these taxes. There's a lot of fixed income people."


The city council will vote whether to adopt the budget on Monday, June 26.


The full budget proposal is on the City of Asheboro website.