July 1 marks the start to a new budget year for most state and local governments. Unlike many private companies, which align with the calendar year, state and local governments operate on a budget year that runs from July 1 to June 30 of the following year. The biggest reason for this is because property taxes are the single largest source of revenue for most governments’ General Fund and they are primarily collected between October and the first part of January.
A budget is simply a plan, so this new budget is the city of Laurinburg’s plan for the upcoming twelve months. It is a financial proposal that annually directs the provision of our city services.
The city’s budget consists of four operating funds — the General Fund, the Electric Fund, the Water and Sewer Fund and the Solid Waste Fund. The following services are funded from our General Fund: police, fire, administration,community development, planning, code enforcement, beautification, grounds maintenance, GIS, cemetery, animal control, rescue squad, fleet maintenance, and street/storm drainage maintenance.
Fortunately, the city was able to pass a budget that kept our property tax rate flat at 40 cents per $100 valuation and had no electricity, water/sewer, or solid waste fee increases. I am extremely pleased we were able to put together a budget that not only met city council’s directives given to staff, but also continued to provide essential services to our residents and businesses with no increases in charges for these services.
Citizens should however notice a few changes and improvements.
In an attempt to keep our city clean, we have implemented a new program with this year’s budget. We will be adding a new position to city staff which will have the responsibility of managing a “Litter and Edging Crew.” With the help of inmates, this crew will tackle litter and will edge streets and sidewalks year around. We strongly feel this program will put a polished “finishing touch” on the City of Laurinburg’s appearance.
We are also planning for this fall a beautification project that will clean up shrubbery and trees at the U.S. 74 interchanges in Laurinburg. A partnership among the city of Laurinburg, the Scotland County Tourism Development Authority, and North Carolina Department of Transportation erected 16 new light poles along the intersections of U.S. 74 earlier this year. The city’s plan now is to transform the existing interchanges into something of which all city of Laurinburg citizens can be proud. City crews will spend a few weeks in the fall tackling this project.
The city also unveiled one new entrance sign on U.S. 401 South a few months back. We identified six locations for the entrance signs and the last five signs should be installed by the end of August. We are all very excited about this addition to our great City.
Making our community attractive and inviting for citizens, businesses, and visitors is a major priority for city council and city staff. The city of Laurinburg is a wonderful place in which to live, visit, or conduct business and we look forward to continuing to help companies Target Laurinburg/Scotland County.
Charles D. Nichols III is city manager for the city of Laurinburg.