The Draft Fiscal Year 2016 Budget is prepared and will be adopted by the Commissioners of Poolesville in accordance with State and local laws. The budget process will include a Public Hearing, on April 20, 2015, allowing the citizens the opportunity to provide input and to learn of the Commissioner's priorities and what the public believes should be the major focus areas of the Town. Following the hearing process, the Commissioners will evaluate citizen input, make adjustments as necessary and finalize the Budget.
The Draft FY 2016, budget remains focused on providing basic services, retaining employees, and maintaining the high quality of services that is fiscally responsible and prepares the Town for its future. In doing so, the Commissioners are faced with moderate budget challenges that will impact Property Tax Rates and Water & Sewer Rates. The budget, while limited in terms of expansion of service levels, is aligned with the Commissioner's goals and the best interest of the Town.
General revenues fund a wide variety of operational and capital accounts all listed in the Draft Budget linked below. For the most part, these accounts have been reduced annually or maintained at a level funding stream. Increased operational expenses this year are attributable to the maintenance of existing and new parks. With the conversion of all of our tot lots for ADA compliance, engineered wood fiber materials are used, which increase expenditures to maintain a safe foundation. Also, with additional parks, trails and roads being added to the Town, a planned new employee was needed and funded.
The General Fund, which is funded primarily through Property and Income Taxes is expected to generate $2,776,190. In order to maintain a balanced budget, the current tax rate of $0.1672 per $100 of assessed property value will be rounded to $0.17 per $100 of assessed value.
The Water and Sewer Fund operations and maintenance, as a policy, are supported and sustained through user fees. Each year, the operational accounts are closely reviewed and, over the past several years, remain fairly constant. Most of the items are fixed costs such as electricity, chemicals, laboratory expenses and so on. With an expanding system, aging infrastructure and increased regulatory requirements, operational increases are on the rise. Another important investment contained in the proposed budget is an attempt to stem the employee turnover rate that has plagued the Town over the past several years. The Commissioners, in response to the impact of this turnover on the ability of the departments to provide quality services and lessen overtime, invested significant Town resources to provide for two additional employees.
The Commissioners do not take rate increases lightly and strive to find a balance between rate increases and operational efficiencies while ensuring that we provide safe reliable and economical water service. This year, to provide for a balanced budget, the rates are proposed to increase by 8%. This rate increase means that our average customer household can expect to pay less than $4.00 more each month. Most of all of our neighboring water and sewer suppliers are faced with similar challenges, however, our rates do remain sufficiently lower in comparison.
The Draft FY2016 Budget reflects a conservative budget approach to maintain the level of service to which we have become accustomed. Any tax or fee based increases have been minimized to the fullest extent while maintaining the goals and of the Commissioners and in the best interest of the community.