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February 7, 2017

Warrenton might raise fees to balance 2018 budget

Photo/Cassandra Brown
Town Manager Brannon Godfrey presents options for the fiscal 2018 budget during a retreat with the council and staff Saturday.
Budget meetings
• Feb. 27 — finance committee meeting.

• March 20 — finance committee meeting.

• April 5 — budget work session.

• April 17 — town council budget work session.

• April 24 — finance committee meeting.

• May 9 — public hearing on proposed budget.

• May 15 — finance committee meeting.

• June 13 — town council adopts budget.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
It might cost more in Warrenton next year to own a car, eat in a restaurant, take a swim and/or build a house.

Warrenton Town Council members want to hold the line on real estate taxes, especially after raising the levy last year for the first time in decades.

But, the town could need another $300,000 to $800,000 to fund staff raises, rising health insurance costs and additional employees, including police officers, in fiscal 2018, which starts July 1. Spending for capital improvements could cost another $926,000.

Town Manager Brannon Godfrey reviewed Warrenton’s finances and gave a fiscal 2018 budget preview during a “retreat” Saturday with the seven-member council, mayor and department heads.

The budget already will include a 1- to 3-percent monthly fee increase for water and sewer customers. It will represent the third rate hike in 18 months as the town works to make up for years of deficit spending.

For general operations, Mr. Godfrey offered several options to generate more revenue:

• Raising the annual motor vehicle license fee from $15 to $25. That would generate an additional $50,000.

• Increasing the 4-percent meals tax. Adding a half-cent to the tax would generate $300,000.

• Increasing the real estate tax rate of 5 cents per $100 assessed value. Another penny on the levy would generate $157,000.

• Increasing fees for land use applications and building permits to generate another $50,000.

• Raising daily and membership fees at the Warrenton Aquatics and Recreation Facility by 5 percent. That would generate an additional $75,000.

• Adjusting the town’s boundaries to include businesses on the Route 29 corridor north of Warrenton, generating meals tax revenue. That would add $200,000 to $300,000 annually, although it would take a couple of years and county board of supervisors’ agreement.

“I wouldn’t increase the real estate or meals tax,” Councilman Sean Polster (At-large) said.

Most colleagues agreed. The council Saturday focused on the possible increases in vehicle fees, WARF admissions and costs for permits and inspections.

“There needs to be cost recovery of our permit process,” Brett Hamby (Ward 3) said.

Raising those planning/zoning/building permit fees could generate an additional $50,000 annually, according to Mr. Godfrey.

“There are a lot of fees being missed,” Planning Director Brandie Schaeffer said.

Council members also discussed charging the same WARF fees to county and town residents. Those outside town have paid higher costs since the facility opened in 2007.

“It would seem easier to have one rate,” Councilwoman Sunny Reynolds (At-large) said.

“We are very close to meeting our operational services” but not debt service, Margaret Rice said.

“But, it’s never going to pay for itself,” Bob Kravetz (Ward 4) said.

Warrenton will spend almost $300,000 this fiscal year to bridge the gap between the WARF’s revenue and its operating expenses, according to the adopted budget.

In the utility fund, water and sewer rate increases in fiscal 2018 would generate another $160,000.

Mr. Godfrey will present his recommended budget in March for town council review.

The council will adopt the 2018 budget June 13.

This year’s $20.9-million budget includes $13 million for general operations and $5.4 million for water and sewer operations.

Town of Warrenton fiscal 2017 Adopted Budget by Fauquier Now on Scribd

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TooTrue · February 8, 2017 at 9:29 pm
Glory is right Reynolds was put in office by developers and their attorneys. Tens of thousands spent for a local election tells the tale. As they say just follow the money. Fitch and decades sought to have development pay for growth. These unprecedented tax and spend increases over the last few years are thanks to caving to development and undisciplined spending. Godfrey got the job as a yes man and wants to keep it at the expense of the citizens. Glory said it, be careful for whom you vote, wish for and allow.
Glory · February 8, 2017 at 7:17 pm
Like we didn't know this was going to happen. The majority of the council is not going to cut anything, they are going to tax and spend. Be careful Warrenton on who you vote for and what you wish for!!! Next thing Sunny and Sean will bring back up us the outdoor sitting area along Main Street, this will take away parking but add $$$ to the budget....HAHAHA!!!
Savethehyenas · February 8, 2017 at 7:25 am
Like the WARF is not expensive enough!
homeward611 · February 7, 2017 at 8:41 pm
Please cut spending instead. PLEASE FIND SOMEWHERE TO CUT SPENDING INSTEAD. We NEED to get to a place where we live within our means.
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