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Bladenboro passes budget with .64 tax rate

The Bladenboro Town Council gathered to discuss changes to the town’s taxes. The main topic of discussion was about changing the current tax rate in Bladenboro. The end decision was to increase the tax rate from .59 to .64.

Mayor Rufus Duckworth explained the situation Bladenboro currently faces, “It’s public record, the boat plant out there, we lost $966,000 and some change in tax revenue. That is an eight million dollar piece of property.” He continued, “The Family Dollar Store dropped almost $24,000, our bank dropped a $148,000 in value, the cotton mill, $104,000, and our beloved Hardees dropped $215,000 and some change. With seven pieces of property that is 1.7 million dollars less tax revenue we will receive than what we did last year. That is a big hit and I wanted to bring all that to your attention.”

Melanie Hester, Town Administrator recapped the proposed budget with three options. After explaining the effects of all three options she said, “The second and third option doesn’t leave any leeway for the needed repairs around here.” She continued by reminding the board that the Police Department needed a new roof. She had the first quote that came in to repair the Police Department’s roof and stated the quote was for $17,000 plus. She also explained repairs at the library are also needed and estimated to cost up to $3,500.

According to Melanie the proposed budget leaves the utility late fee at $5.00, the utility rates structure will be left graduating like it was before, the police department budget will remain where it’s at, but the GPS funds will stay where they are at unless the board votes to spend the funds. The proposed budget is adding $2,600 to cover the state mandated testing of the town’s trucks and $1,100 for their reporting system.

Once the motion was made to accept the first proposed budget Town Councilman, Terry Nance said, “I don’t like raising taxes, I know it affects everybody, it affects me. I wish there was some other alternative, but there is not and we need to do what is best for our town. It is our job to make sure this town gets funded and looks out for the citizens.”

Melanie added, “The good news is in a couple years you will see some major debt coming off so hopefully in two years we can bring that rate back down.” She continued with one more positive point, Chuck Heustess with the Department of Economic Development and a county commissioner indicated the industrial park may have a new business that would bring in additional tax revenue.

The board also discussed contacting elected officials in the Senate and House of Representatives to let them know they support the sales tax increase. If the sales tax was increased it would help lighten some of the burden small towns are facing and take the brunt of the responsibility off of property owners according to some board members.

After all the discussion was made the board passed the proposed budget with the new tax rate of .64 with a five to one vote from the Town Council.

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