Proposed Danbury budget avoids tax increase

Residents of Danubury will not face a tax increase this year if the town’s proposed budget is adopted later in June.

Town Administrator Mike Barsness said the proposed $65,260 budget represented a nine percent decrease over the previous year’s budget, but noted that without increasing taxes or pulling from the town’s fund balance it would be impossible to balance the budget.

He presented the town council four funding options for the upcoming year ranging from drawing entirely from the fund balance to balance the budget, to several options involving a combination of tax increases and draws from the fund balance, to covering the entire budget shortfall through increased taxes.

“Such a plan would require an increase of approximately 6.5 cents per $100 of valuation,” said Barsness. “I need direction between now and next month’s meeting to know what direction you want to go.”

The council unanimously responded with a preference for balancing the budget without a tax increase.

“I am generally not in favor of using fund balances to balance budgets,” said Councilman Steve Shelton. “However, in light of our more then healthy fund balance and to give us some cushion to look at things between now and next year and evaluate possible changes in state revenues I would be in favor of us not having a tax increase this year and using $6,000 from the fund balance.

“The town has been very frugal with our money and has built a healthy reserve,” he added. “Using that amount is not going to endanger our reserve.”

“The town is pretty healthy and there will be other taxes people have to pay so at least our citizens here will not have an extra cost,” agreed Councilman Dave Hoskins.

The council also agreed to adopt a new fund balance policy that will help to guide use of fund balance monies in coming years.

Under the new policy the town will not be able use fund balance monies after it dips below 50 percent of the previous year’s total expenditures without a special vote by the council to tap into the reserve.

“I think this is a very responsible policy,” said Councilman Gary East.

RiverStreet networks project moving forward

Barsness said the town was working with the county to rezone a parcel near the Cooperative Extension offices to provide retail space for RiverStreet Networks, a new company which plans to provide broadband service to many un- and under-served areas of the county.

Barsness said the town’s planing board would be reviewing the application and then make a recommendation to the council.

But several council members expressed concern over being able to have a say in how the new building will look.

“I am worried about light pollution and the possible ugliness of the building,” said Hoskins. “I just want to see a nice building and not some cinder-block building with neon lights.”

Barsness said the only way the council could dictate the appearance of the building would be if they chose to rezone it as B3.

“That is conditional use zoning,” he said. The best fit is B2, but if you go B2 you cannot put conditions on it.”

Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.

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