Waynesville set to adopt budget Tuesday
Waynesville's mayor and board of aldermen made no changes to the proposed $29 million budget for the coming fiscal year at their final budget workshop.
The 3-cent increase per $100 property tax evaluation remained in place, raising Waynesville's tax rate from .4082 per $100 to .4382, where it was several years ago.
Solid waste handling is a big-ticket item for most towns and counties, and Waynesville is no exception. When the county started requiring towns to haul their own garbage to the county's White Oak landfill, now privately operated by Santek, the county subsidized Waynesville $80,000 per year for three years to offset the town's expenses. The county no longer offers that funding.
"The county slaps it on the municipalities," said Alderman Gary Caldwell. "The county doesn't care about municipalities."
Caldwell went on to mention the town's $600,000 expenditure for equipment which was based on Haywood County's old way of handling solid waste.
"We don't even need that now, but we're stuck with it," said Caldwell.
According to town manager Marcy Onieal's data, when Santek slashed tipping fees in half it made up the difference in lost county funding for the coming fiscal year.
"But that might not be the case in years to come," Onieal said.
David Foster, director of public works, suggested to the board that they may want to look hard at what services they provide.
"This may be the ideal year (next year) to assess our trash services. We can adopt our own solid waste plan," he said.
Alderman Wells Greeley agreed.
"We need to look at our fee structure, and ask ourselves what we're willing to pick up," he said.
Caldwell asked the board to go over line by line proposed special appropriations and contributions. Caldwell has for several years had the responsibility of assisting with that one-page, $137,000 piece of the budget pie.
The only audience members at the workshop were advocates for Folkmoot and its newly launched program to refurbish Hazelwood School where Folkmoot is located. The county recently gave the historic school to Folkmoot.
Waynesville did not allocate anything to Folkmoot for annual festival support, but did earmark $5,000 toward its design plan for the school. Onieal had also place-marked $20,000 for Folkmoot's capital campaign, a move Mayor Gavin Brown did not agree with.
"We haven't seen any plans. What are they going to do with the money?" he asked.
Folkmoot director Karen Babcock appeared before the governing board a few months ago to roll out the international festival's ideas for renovating the school into a community center.
It was agreed by board consensus to leave the $20,000 in the budget for possible dispersal at a later date. After the meeting, the mayor agreed that he has a better understanding now of Folkmoot's plans for the historic school, the school he attended as a child.
"It would be a good place for a year-round community center," he said. "It's in a really good central location."
REACH had asked for $12,000 and was budgeted $10,000. Arc and the Rescue Squad (utilities) had their initial requests for $4,000 each denied, but those requests were reinstated Tuesday night. About 30 nonprofit organizations presented formal letters of request to the board.
"I'm glad Waynesville still does this," said Greeley. "Many towns and counties, including Haywood, have had to cut out donations to nonprofits, but I see it as part of our responsibility as good citizens."
Alderman Leroy Roberson quickly agreed, saying: "These are good organizations doing good work. I too am happy we can do it."
Waynesville's governing board is expected to adopt a budget Tuesday night June 24 at its regular meeting at 7 p.m. in the board room upstairs in the police department building.