CEDAR POINT — Cedar Point commissioners Tuesday night voted 4-0 to adopt a $1,069,500 fiscal 2021-22 budget with a 3-cent property tax increase to 14.75 cents per $100 of assessed value.
The action came during the board’s monthly meeting in town hall and followed a public hearing during which no one spoke, chiefly because the tax increase won’t result in a higher tax bill for many property owners. That’s because the budget also eliminates the $175-per-year fee for garbage service, which has been included in the annual tax bill for years.
“The break-even point is $583,325,” town manager David Rief said. “Anyone whose property is worth less than that and has been paying for trash will see a decrease in their tax bill.”
Beginning Thursday, July 1, the start of the new fiscal year, garbage service will be paid for by the town through property taxes instead of the fee, thus the higher tax rate.
There was another reason for the change, as well. According to Mr. Rief, the higher property tax rate should result in the town receiving more revenue from state-shared sales tax, which is distributed by Carteret County based on tax levies, in fiscal 2022-23. He estimated Cedar Point could see as much as $55,000 to $60,000 in additional sales tax revenue in that fiscal year, including normal growth. That’s equivalent to 1.25 to 1.5 cents on the town’s tax rate, the manager said.
At any rate, Mr. Rief said the average property in town is worth $291,000, and the owner of that property will see an $88.72 decrease, to $429.80, in the tax bill for fiscal 2021-22 compared to the current year because of the elimination of the garbage fee.
As for the increase in the total budget, Mr. Rief cited a number of factors, including increases in the cost of garbage service by contractor Waste Industries, an increase in the cost of the town’s contract with the County Sheriff’s Office for a full-tine deputy and a few capital expenditures for equipment, such as a public works lawn mower for street rights-of-way.
Town clerk Jayne Calhoun said she had a few phone calls from residents who were unhappy about the tax increase, but said they understood after she explained their total bill would likely be lower.
Mayor Pro-Tem Pam Castellano praised Mr. Rief, who was promoted this fiscal year from town administrator to town manager after the board unanimously voted to change Cedar Point’s charter to the council-manager form of government. She said the manager “has the ability to see the future and plan for it. I believe it’s going to benefit the town for years to come.”
Commissioner John Nash made the motion to approve the budget, more than one month earlier than the Wednesday, June 30 deadline. The board held only one formal budget work session this year.
“I’m very happy with it,” Mr. Nash said of the tax-and-spending plan. “I think we’re on the right course, budget stability.”
The budget provides a 3% cost of living raise to all employees except Mr. Rief, who will get an 8% hike – 3% for cost-of-living and 5% for his promotion.
A town manager heads all departments, while under the town administrator system, commissioners nominally oversee the departments. In addition, a manager can hire and fire all employees without board approval.
The total budget represents an $84,500 increase from the initial fiscal 2020-21 operating budget of $985,000. The town’s largest source of revenue will be the property tax, which is expected to generate $597,161.93. The next highest is the sales and use tax, which is expected to supply $220,000.
The budget notes the town expects to take over its building and inspections services during the fiscal year, eventually bringing in about $50,000 in fees. Under the existing contract, the county has collected about $70,000 per year for the service.
The town also expects to get $35,000 from the state-shared Powell Bill. That money must be used for street and street-related purposes.
This fiscal year, for the first time in years, the town did not use any of its reserve fund to balance the budget, and that policy will continue in fiscal 2021-22.
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email email@example.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.