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By JENNIFER RAYMOND
As the budget process starts to wind down, residents can get a better look at what to expect for the next fiscal year, especially regarding their taxes.
Kingston residents, as the budget stands now, can expect a 5-cent property tax rate increase.
This will put the rate at $1.35 per $100 of assessed property. For a property valued at $75,000, the increase will be less than $13 a year.
“I think this tax increase is minimal,” Councilman Norman Sugarman said. “We need to be facing the future. This may not be a one time deal.”
The expected revenue generated from the increase is $55,000.
The budget also includes an increase in garbage collection fees, raising it from $8.58 to $10 a month.
Mayor Troy Beets suggested that residents who qualify for the Senior Property Tax Relief receive a reduced rate of $5 a month.
“That $5 a month really means something to them,” Beets said.
Water and sewer customers can also expect an increase.
Customers will have an increase of about 7 percent on their water and sewer rates.
Council members also discussed removing money in capital improvements — almost $30,000 — for a new street sweeper.
The current sweeper, which is used weekly, has a bad transmission.
“It won’t hardly go up a hill,” Public Works Director Tim Clark said.
Councilwoman Teresa Ferguson suggested taking the money and putting it back in the fund balance.
“If you take it and use it in another place, you’re digging another grave, Sugarman countered.
Right now, the city is taking $125,000 from the fund to balance the budget.
Clark said that he could go without the new sweeper this year as long as he is able to get one in the next budget.
“I can tell you, it won’t make it next year,” Clark said.
The proposed budget also includes the removal of the school resource officer, who is assigned to schools nine months out of the year. The officer will be put back into the police department all year.
The hope is that the staff increase will allow someone to move to narcotics investigations.
Council said that major reasons for the budget increase is because of the increase in fuel, insurance and the hiring of additional firefighters to be in compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules.
“We made big strides in the fire department this year,” Councilwoman Jane DeVall said.
Council members will vote on the current budget on June 10.
The city plans to hold a public hearing on June 17 at 6:30 p.m. to make a budget presentation to town residents.
Officials will present the budget and list reasons for the increases at the hearing.
“A lot of these costs are the same ones that are hitting at home,” DeVall noted.
“Citizens resent the fact that we can take from their pockets,” Councilman Brant Williams said.