POCOMOKE CITY -- In presenting his proposed budget for fiscal year 2013, City Manager Russell W. Blake is calling for an increase of 7 cents to 82 cents per $100 valuation in the owner-occupied property tax rate.
However, he assured property owners they would not see an increase in their tax bills because the assessments have decreased.
He is also recommending a 10-cent increase in the tax rate for commercial properties, to 90 cents per $100. Other rates including those for business corporations, railroads, utilities and manufacturing equipment would remain the same.
Other rates impacting nearly all city residents, the water and sewer rates, will not be increased in the coming year. The rates are remaining stable even though the new upgrade to the sewer plant will be operational July 1, creating additional costs.
Costing $4 million to construct, the plant cost the town $102,078; the rest is being covered by grants. The half-million dollar ultraviolet project, a part of the new plant, will also be 90 percent funded by grants. That project will save the town $40,000 per year.
Some other major projects are the new police headquarters and the new restaurant on the Pocomoke River. The construction cost of the restaurant is 80 percent covered by grants. Plans call for covering the cost of a loan for the balance with rental income from the occupant.
A long-term low interest loan from the United States Department of Agriculture will cover most of the police building cost.
At $115,000, room taxes in town have grown to become a major source of revenue. Another major source is septic truck haulers. Coming mostly from Virginia, they are expected to pay the town about $330,000. The manager is planning on a $400,000 contribution from Worcester County in undesignated economic development funds.
With the county expected to contribute $415,500 toward funding the ambulance department, Blake expects it to be self-sustaining. The town is also planning to purchase a new ambulance, using a $50,000 USDA grant and a loan of about $150,000.
Another large capital purchase in the budget is a new trash truck at an estimated cost of $140,000. The present truck having been paid off three years ago, this one will be financed by a new loan.
Some other grants in the budget include: $140,000 for radio read water meters for the first phase of the town, $25,000 for a new police car and $57,500 for downtown improvements and for a new projector for the Mar-Va Theater.
Other economic ideas proposed by Blake include $20,000 budgeted for a part-time employee who is concentrating on downtown and other economic development issues (coming from a special downtown business account); and the suggestion that the city look into building a new shell building at the Industrial Park. However, this is not included in the budget.
Blake said the proposed budget is balanced at nearly $8.3 million, including water and sewer, ambulance and general funds.