A Closer Look at Weaverville's $9.5M Budget - TribPapers

A Closer Look at Weaverville’s $9.5M Budget

Photo by Firmbee.com on Unsplash

Weaverville – The new proposed $9.5 million budget for the 2023–2024 fiscal year for the Town of Weaverville is nearly 20% (18.4%) higher than the current budget for the town, which holds the line on property taxes but increases other taxes and fees.  So, what are the significant changes in the budget? 

According to Weaverville Town Manager Selena Coffey’s executive summary given to council members at the April meeting of the town council and obtained by the Tribune, the first item is an increase of 24.5% (an increase of $722,710) for the fire department’s budget. 

According to the fire department, part of the increase will go to pay for a new fire truck to replace Engine 8 at a cost of $900,000. Coffey budgeted $300,000 for this coming fiscal year to pay for the vehicle and plans to spend $300,000 over the next two budget cycles.

Also accounting for part of the 18.4% increase in the general budget will be seven new full-time positions and one part-time position at the town. Three new police officers, one police record/evidence specialist, three new firefighters (a matter that the fire chief and Coffey are still being evaluated), one planner/GIS technician, and a part-time assistant for the community center and recreation complex.

The increased budget will also include pay increases for employees and increases in the cost of medical benefits of about 17%, along with an increase in pay for the council members and mayor.  The recommended mayor increase will go from the current $4,800 annually to $7,800, and the council members will double from the current $1,800 to $3,600 annually. 

Budget includes environmental initiatives

There are several environmental initiatives included in the budget, including a solar project for the roof of the Weaverville Fire Station at a cost of $75,544 that Coffey estimates will have a lifetime savings of about $172,000 and will take 11.3 years to recoup the cost of the project.

There are also a total of eight electric vehicle charging ports scheduled in the budget. Two at the fire stations for public vehicles paid for by a grant from the VW Settlement Program, and six at the town hall and police department paid for by the same grant. Coffey said that if the town does not receive the grants, “town council may choose to move forward with the installation…”

Where is the money coming from?

Even without a property tax increase, the executive summary says the property revenue will increase by about 4.22% or about $180,000.  The town also expects to see a 15.8% (about $200,000) increase in local government sales tax, an increase in appropriated fund balance almost double ($1.6 million) in fund balance, and sees investment earnings go from about $90,000 in the current year to $336,000 ( an increase of 276%).  The town is asking Buncombe County for a one-cent increase in the county fire tax. 

Coffey states, “The fiscal year budget will once again show significant increases in the interest rate income.” According to Coffey, the increase in interest income comes from a rise in the interest rates by the Federal Reserve.  An increase in growth and the one-cent increase in the fire tax is expected to garner about $201,000 in revenue.  Additional revenue will come from implementing a stormwater fee and a review by staff of existing fees.

There is also a planned water rate increase of about four percent, even though the water system budget is down over 29% from last year’s budget.  There are three capital improvements in the upcoming water budget, including the waterline replacement program, for which Coffey has budgeted $400,000, and two water production projects that total about $60,000.