City Council unanimously approved its budget for the upcoming fiscal year and approved a pair of Colonial Williamsburg requests for its Summer Breeze concert series at its May 9 meeting.
The fiscal year 2020 budget totals $69.1 million split across six funds. The proposed general fund, which covers costs across all city departments, totals $37.3 million.
Higher costs can be attributed to a $516,149 increase in departmental spending, a $175,004 increase in the city’s annual solid waste recycling costs and a 2 percent cost of living pay increase for city staff, with an additional merit-based pay increase of up to 3 percent.
Following a discussion on the budget at last month’s City Council meeting, revisions to the proposed budget include a $20,000 increase in funding for Olde Towne Health Clinic and a $94,399 decrease in the city’s share of funding for W-JCC School operating costs.
While next year’s budget will not raise the city’s real estate tax rate, it does account for an increase in the assessed value of property in the city. The current year’s budget, which expires June 30, raised the real estate tax rate in the city by 3 cents per $100 of assessed value.
The exact amount of that increase won’t be known until the conclusion of an annual assessment in December. At last month’s City Council meeting, City Manager Andrew Trivette said he expects the final figure to be a 5.7 percent increase by the time the assessment is completed.
Trivette said that Council will reassess the budget after determining the actual assessed value increase rate, and will weigh where to allocate the excess funds at the beginning of next year.
“Our recommendation for reallocation would start in order of priority, dealing with public safety requests first,” he said.
Other highlights include a $17.7 million capital improvement fund, which is the city’s five-year construction and road work spending plan. New projects expected to take shape in the coming years include the design and construction of a new city fire station at 912 Capitol Landing Road, which — along with the cost of necessary renovations at the existing city fire station on Lafayette Street — is expected to cost $11.2 million.
Next year’s tourism fund totals $5.3 million. Revenues in the fund include the city’s $2 per night room tax, a $2.2 million transfer from the general fund and the city’s share of half of the SB 942 1 percent sales tax. Tourism-related expenses include $800,000 in funding for the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance as mandated by SB 942, and a $1.3 million grant to fund the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s marketing efforts.
The new budget will take effect on July 1 and ends on June 30, 2020.
Also at the meeting, Council approved a request from Colonial Williamsburg for a zoning amendment to allow food trucks in the city’s Museum Support District with a special use permit, and for a special use permit to continue holding its Summer Breeze concerts on the lawn of the Dewitt Wallace Decorative Art Museum through 2023.
“I think the moving of the Summer Breeze concerts to the DeWitt Wallace lawn was very successful. I was there for many of the concerts and really appreciate the breadth and depth of the music that was provided,” said council member Barbara Ramsey.
Arriaza can be reached at 757-790-9313 or on Twitter @rodrigoarriaza0.