The Purcellville Town Council formally wrapped up its work on the fiscal year 2018 budget Tuesday night, adopting a spending plan that avoids increases in tax rates or utility fees.
It took the council only 15 minutes to adopt the budget this week, but that action followed nearly six months of work and 10 meetings during which members delved deep into the town’s service offerings and debt obligations.
The $9.8 million General Fund budget represents a 1 percent increase over the current budget and includes 3 percent raises for town employees. The council’s key achievement was nixing plans for 7 percent increases in water and sewer service rates by rolling back administrative chargebacks, pursuing additional revenue from the sale or lease of town properties, and initiating plans to restructure as much as $30 million of the town’s $41 million in outstanding utility debt.
The budget was adopted in a 5-1-1 vote, with Councilman Doug McCollum opposed and Ryan Cool absent for the meeting.
The council majority said the end product represented a re-stabilization of town operations while maintaining the town’s strong financial standing.
Mayor Kwasi Fraser said members spent “a lot of sleepless nights working line item by line item to try to get it right.”
McCollum, who opposed many of the line-item General Fund budget reductions that were required to avoid the utility rate increases, said the final plan was structured with a short-term view and failed to reflect the realistic needs of the town.
While the town’s 22-cent real estate tax rate will remain unchanged, many homeowners will see their tax bills increase because of rising property values. While utility rates won’t increase this year, annual hikes remain in the town’s future—even if the debt restructuring plan moves forward as expected. The plan, as explained to the council on Tuesday, would still require rate increase between 2 and 3.1 percent annually for the next 10 years.
Among the town construction projects that should advance next year are improvements to Hirst Road and Nursery Avenue, a roundabout at the 32nd Street/A Street intersection, an A Street sidewalk between Blue Ridge Middle School and Maple Avenue, and the replacement of the North Maple Avenue water line.