Bude floats concept of tax hike for new budget year

by Sean Dunlap

The Bude Board of Aldermen could soon consider up to a five mill increase in ad valorem taxes from its residents and businesses during the municipality’s upcoming revenue and spending plan that will take effect on Saturday, Oct. 1.

A hearing on the town’s budget is scheduled for 6 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 2 at Bude Town Hall on Railroad Avenue, and the public is invited to attend the session.

Bude residents will be allotted time during the meeting to address town leaders about the budget proposal.

Town Clerk Kim Vaughn confirmed Bude’s town government is presently operating on projected budget revenues of $357,635 — of which 38 percent ($134,200) comes from ad valorem taxes.

During a work session held prior to the board’s previous business meeting on Tuesday, July 5, Vaughn and aldermen spent the better part of 20 minutes discussing town finances.

“The question comes down to whether or not you want to consider an ad valorem tax increase so that we can begin working on a plan for the new fiscal year,” Vaughn told the panel.

Board attorney Mary Kathryn Williamson and Alderman Norma Jean Kelly both said they could not recall the last time town leaders changed tax rates in the municipality.

In reviewing the minutes of last year’s board meeting where the FY 2022 budget was approved, the town had 30.4 mills directed to supporting the general fund with additional millage directed toward fire protection and a special street fund.

For the new budget cycle, Bude leaders will consider increasing ad valorem taxes from 34.1 mills to 39.1 mills.

Ad valorem — a latin term that roughly translates to “according to the value” — involves tax collections on the assessed value of homes, real property, automobiles, utilities along with business fixtures and equipment.

Those taxes are assessed annually by counties, municipalities and school districts to fund their operations along with state and federal programs and grant support as well as a myriad of fines, fees and privilege taxes.

Under Bude’s preliminary budget proposal for the new fiscal year, the town’s revenue stream is estimated to be $372,428 — an increase of $14,793.

Roughly 39 percent ($142,900) of the town’s income in FY 2023 would originate from ad valorem taxes.

“The thing we have to consider is the cost of everything is going up,” Kelly said. “We need to take a long, hard look at where our money is coming from and where it is going before we take any final action.”

Mayor Linda Green agreed with Kelly’s assessment of the situation, and said the budget will be a concern as the town faces increased costs for everything from street repairs to keeping up its vehicle fleet.

“Our responsibility is to keep the town on the good side of the (financial) spreadsheet,” Green added. “We have to look at every item on the budget to see how we can deal with it.”

Alderman Jillian Dunmore said she wanted to be able to study the budget — in writing — before making any decisions about what future revenues and expenditures might look like.

“It comes down to this board doing its homework,” Dunmore said. “Our goal throughout the year is to be good stewards of the dollars we get to run the town.”

Aldermen Jeffrey Quick said the town has known its share of financial hardships in the past and doesn’t want a repeat of such difficulties in the future.

“We haven’t raised taxes in a long time, and, if we do, this board will have to show the citizens there is a need,” Quick said. “I’m not in favor of raising taxes just to raise taxes, which won’t be good for the town as we try to move ahead.”

Also during the current budget cycle that runs through Friday, Sept. 30, aldermen previously voted to adjust the town’s water and sewer rates to address shortfalls in revenue over the last several years for those services.