Thursday, June 30, 2022

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Graham, NC 27253
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Proposed status quo budget for Whitsett leaves spending, taxes at same levels

Whitsett’s administrator has proposed a spending plan for the new fiscal year that envisions nearly $178,000 in outlays from the town’s general fund without recourse to either a tax increase or an allocation of savings to make ends meet.

The recommended budget, which the municipality’s administrator Ken Jacobs unveiled to Whitsett’s town council on Tuesday, ultimately relies on existing taxes and fees to cover most of its $177,950 in expenditures. Property taxes alone are expected to raise some $93,000 of the town’s revenues in the new fiscal year. The budget also counts on sales taxes to generate another $30,000, utility franchises to bring in $29,500, and investment earnings to reap an additional $16,000.

In his presentation to council, Jacobs acknowledged that the proposed budget’s revenues are more optimistic than they were a year earlier, when the cities and towns across North Carolina scaled back their projected receipts due to fears about the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Jacobs conceded that these concerns have since proven largely unfounded.

“I be really honest with you,” he told the town’s decision makers on Tuesday, “I don’t see a whole lot of difference in revenue since COVID.”

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Concerns about the pandemic’s effect on the town’s revenues nevertheless convinced Whitsett’s leaders to pencil in a large chunk of the town’s savings to balance their current annual budget – money that, in the end, the town never needed to use. The council also decided to forgo a number of expenditures in light of its initial anxiety about the current year’s revenues.

Whitsett’s town clerk Jo Hesson informed the council that the proposed budget’s outlays are only about $7,000 higher than the current year’s figures. These expenditures include some $64,030 – roughly two thirds of which is earmarked for the wages of the town clerk, the town administrator, and a part-time assistant. The budget also sets aside $8,860 for expenses related to the town’s finances, $34,040 for the upkeep and maintenance of Whitsett’s historic town hall and its grounds, and $62,000 for curbside trash and recycling collection, which the town provides free of charge to each of its households.

In addition to the general fund’s proposed budget, the council also received a spending plan for the town’s water system, whose $21,100 in outlays are expected to be floated almost entirely by the monthly fees that the system’s customers pay.

One oft-bemoaned item that didn’t merit much consternation on Tuesday was the maintenance of a municipal ballfield that’s located next to Whitsett’s town hall. Jacobs told the council that he hasn’t had much issue with the field’s upkeep since earlier this spring when Gibsonville’s recreation department began to use the site per an agreement that the two municipalities had brokered before the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic.

Whitsett’s administrator nevertheless noted that the parking area next to the ballfield has proven inadequate for the youth softball league which has taken the field under Gibsonville’s auspices. In fact, there was nary a space to be found before Tuesday’s council meeting, which apparently coincided with the municipal ball league’s first game of the season.

“I’m going to have to get a hold Mike [Dupree] with Gibsonville]’s recreation and parks department],” Jacobs went on to add. “We’ve got to do something with parking – this crap with parking on the side of the road has got to cease.”

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