Maggie Valley has offered the first look at its proposed 2020-21 budget, and there isn’t much to it.
The proposal was discussed at a town meeting held last Tuesday, and while it doesn’t feature a lot of big, new line items, the town’s fiscal future looks stable, even amid the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
Town Manager Nathan Clark presented the budget, which he described as “razor thin” although not as “drastic” as other years. Clark noted the property tax rate will remain the same at $0.43 per $100 of assessed value, a number that has remained steady since the 2017-18 budget.
However, it is expected that revenue will take a hit, given the anticipated lower property tax collection rate, which Clark conservatively estimated at 94 percent, down from 97 percent this year, and a decrease in money returned to the town from sales tax collection, which he noted was down about 20 percent.
“What hurts sales tax is there was less opportunities for people to spend money,” he said.
“We view this as more of a temporary bump in the road that will mostly affect this year’s budget,” he added.
Ultimately, projected tax revenue was scaled back 2.23 percent, so the proposed budget uses a one-time fund balance transfer of $123,968 to ensure balance.
“It still gives us a very healthy margin there,” Clark told the board.
The proposed budget also includes a fund balance transfer of $148,454 from the sewer fund.
Notably, the town’s general fund is debt free, which Clark called “ a very rare accomplishment for any government, especially a local government.”
“Little decisions over time have made this possible, so the board should feel a sense of accomplishment there,” he said.
While Clark had hinted prior to unveiling the proposed budget that there may be an increase in the town’s sewer fee, he ultimately chose to not include that due to the impact of the pandemic on people’s ability to keep up with any rate increases.
“Next year, be looking for that pretty strong,” he said.
Another thing Clark said will have a substantial impact on Maggie Valley will be the upcoming revaluation, noting that the last two were “unkind” to the town. Basically, some residential values have gone up, but commercial values have largely dropped.
“On the commercial side, based on our conversations before and what we’ve seen as long as we continue to have the buildings we have, we’re not going to see any major increase in that value,” Mayor Mike Eveland said.
Clark also presented the board with a few things that weren’t in the proposed budget but could make the final draft. The first would be a revenue generator for the town in the form of a dollar increase to the monthly solid waste fee, which would add up to $17,000 for the town. Maggie currently has the lowest solid waste fee in the county.
Possible expenditures included limited raises, a dump truck to replace the town’s outdated one, an additional public works employee, a new police vehicle or improvements to exterior and interior spaces in town hall.
A public hearing on the budget will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 9.
The town will host a meeting on June 9 that will offer the public the opportunity to offer its opinions on the proposed budget.