Shenandoah’s water/sewer bills will rise, but no tax increases

Money

By Randy Arrington

SHENANDOAH, May 13 — The Shenandoah Council unanimously approved the town’s $2.8 million budget for FY20-21 on Tuesday night.

The total budget of $2,754,204 represents an overall increase of $183,734 — or 7.1 percent — over the current budget. Discounting grants and operating transfers, the approved budget for the next fiscal year reflects an actual increase of 5.8 percent. The majority of that increase will go toward five key areas:

  • A 3-percent “across the board” pay increase for 17 full-time and nine part-time town employees;
  • Water and sewer improvements and continued maintenance on lines and at the treatment plant;
  • Hiring a sixth police officer;
  • Purchasing a vehicle for the police department;
  • Continued improvements at the town’s WigWam Village park.

The police department has the biggest departmental increase, going from $446,578 allocated in the current year to $528,854 earmarked for the upcoming fiscal year. Parks and Rec increased from $51,200 to $82,000.

In terms of revenues, the majority of the increase came from transfers from the town’s capital improvement account — a separate account from the town’s general fund. This accounts for a revenue increase of $104,766 in “non-tax revenue” that will be used for capital improvements and purchases.

“Although it shows up as an increase, it’s really a wash,” town treasurer Cindy Breeden said. “It’s taking it from one town bucket and putting it in another town bucket.”

There were no tax increases included in the FY21 Shenandoah budget, with the rate on real estate and mobile homes remaining at $0.34 per $100 of assessed value. Other tax rates that remain unchanged for the next fiscal year are:

  • Personal use vehicles valued at $1,000 or less will be eligible for 100-percent tax relief;
  • Personal use vehicles valued at $1,001 to $20,000 will be eligible for tax relief at a percentage rate which will be decided by the Town Manager and Treasurer after vehicle totals are assessed by the Commissioner of Revenue and edited to see what percentage rate will apply;
  • Personal use vehicles valued at $20,001 or more shall only be eligible for tax relief at a percentage rate which will be decided by the Town Manager and Treasurer after vehicle totals are assessed by the Commissioner of Revenue and edited to see what percentage rate will apply on the first $20,000 of value.
  • The machinery and tools tax remains at 40 cents per $100 of assessed value.
  • Vehicle license fees will remain at $25 for cars, trucks, trailers and campers — while motorcycle license fees remain at $15.

Fees for business licenses and the meals/lodging tax remain unchanged as well.

The Shenandoah Council did, however, approve advertised increases to water and sewer rates and tap fees as follows:

  • $2 per month increase to water bills;
  • $2 per month increase to sewer bills;
  • $6,000 now charged for inside (town limits) water connection;
  • $9,000 now charged for outside water connection;
  • $7,000 now charged for inside sewer connection;
  • $10,000 now charged for outside sewer connection.

A public hearing was held on the budget at the council’s April 28 meeting. There were no speakers.

Town Manager Juanita Roudabush said that potential affects of the COVID-19 pandemic have not been factored into the budget approved Tuesday night.

“We didn’t make any changes prior to COVID-19,” Roudabush said. “We are going with it in hopes everyone will be able to open up soon and have a heightened awareness of how important it is to shop local. Hopefully local business will see an increase after this and hopefully we’ll support small business throughout Page County.

“Hopefully there will be no changes,” Roudabush continued. “If things don’t get rolling soon, we may have to make some adjustments.”

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