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Bermuda Run town council presents budget

By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

During the days of the coronavirus pandemic and so much uncertainty, putting together a budget for each of the local municipalities is more difficult than usual.

That’s certainly the case in Bermuda Run, where longtime Town Manager Lee Rollins presented his 2020-21 fiscal year budget in last Tuesday night’s town council meeting – calling for an 8% overall reduction from last year.

“Based on what I’ve recommended, it’s a conservative budget that will continue to take care of core services that the town has historically taken care of,” Rollins said. “We’re looking at an overall 8% reduction, I’m proposing, based on the current budget that we’re in now. Most of that is predicated on sales tax revenues. There may be some delay in property tax payments, but I don’t think for Bermuda Run that’s going to be a significant issue. So the things that are out of our control is sales tax.”

The problem with trying to compute sales tax, based on the impact on local businesses as a result of the restrictions imposed since late March because of the coronavirus impact and stay-at-home order, is the delay in how the funds are dispersed by the state.

“For municipalities, it’s about a three-month lag,” Rollins said. “So from the time sales tax is taken from the retailer, it’s about three months before the state distributes it to the municipalities and counties.

“So we’re really not going to have a feel for what that means until the next budget year. Our tax rate is capped at 15 cents, and it’s my recommendation to keep it at 15 cents and just continue to monitor our sales tax.”

A public hearing to provide for public input on the proposed budget will be held in next month’s meeting on June 9 for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2020, and ending June 30, 2021.

Last Tuesday night’s “live” meeting with proper social distancing in town hall was the first for the council since March – with the April meeting being canceled. In addition to calling for the public hearing, the council also voted to affirm remote meeting rules of procedure as now allowed by law in the state.

The General Fund, which is the basic operating fund for town services, is proposed to be balanced at $1,691,300 – compared to $1,840,300 in the 2019-20 fiscal year budget that runs through June 30.

Rollins said that property tax revenues are estimated at $770,000 a year and that more than $500,000 of that amount is dedicated for ongoing street paving maintenance projects.

“I think that is a significant continued investment from the Council perspective that you continue to make in streets,” said Rollins, who added other General Fund highlights include just over $200,000 for solid waste pickup, $87,000 for streetlights and $36,000 for landscaping.

Bermuda Run also administers a Gate Operations Fund, which is assessed only to parcels of property that are behind the gated portions of the town, and is proposed to be balanced at $566,017.

Rollins said that property owner gate fees, which have maintained an annual fee of $420 for over 10 years, will have a 10% increase in the proposed budget with most of it covering a 95% changeover in gate attendant personnel “with the ongoing hourly rate pressure to find quality service.”

The third fund the town administers is the Utilities Fund, which is proposed to balance at $530,850. The projection mirrors the rates Davie County Public Utilities has set for East Davie sewer customers so that all town residents pay the same rates for water and sewer.

It includes a capital project expenditure to cover the implementation of constructing a sewer line to tie to the new East Davie Sewer Pump Station and the decommissioning of the more than 30-year-old package plant.

Mayor Rick Cross praised the work done by Rollins in putting together a budget in “the anything but normal times that we’re dealing with now” with all the different moving parts.

“The work that Mr. Rollins and our team have done to put this together, contemplating a lot of unknowns and variables that are out in front of us, speaks to his knowledge, his experience and what our core responsibilities are as a town,” Cross said. “It also speaks loudly with this budget to those who have come before us as elected officials of this town to be concerned, to be prudent and to be forward thinking to make sure we have a fund balance that can withstand some pretty strong headwinds.”

In his comments, Cross also noted recent activity in the town, including two new entrances being cut through to Kinderton Business Park, a new venture in venue management between WinMock at Kinderton and Sterling Events Group with Triple J Manor House in Mocksville, the opening of the outlet store at Meg Brown Home Furnishings, and the new Comet Apartments continuing to lease units with the ‘’pent-up demand” for the last building going up now – and scheduled for completion later this year.

“Things are still moving, things are still happening in our town,” Cross said.