Erwin budget picture brighter than anticipated

Sue Guinn Legg • Jun 9, 2020 at 9:50 PM

ERWIN — Settled in for its first hard look at the numbers, the Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen received several bits of good news on the town’s 2020-21 budget on Monday.

With property tax collections for the current fiscal coming in well above projections and strong sales tax collections offsetting the weeks-long COVID-19 shutdown, the town is set to wrap up the current budget year with an estimated $200,000 surplus.

With projected operating expenses down about $140,000 from the current fiscal year, no pay raises yet in the budget, and an estimated $300,000 in savings to be netted through a new debt service issuance, the new budget is projected to come in approximately $700,000 ahead in revenues over expenditures.

While Town Recorder Travis Bishop emphasized that all the numbers are preliminary at this point, he told the board that Erwin is fortunate to have not suffered the budgetary pain many other municipalities are suffering as a result of the pandemic.

Turning their attention to departmental requests for capital expenditures, the board reviewed a needs list that includes three new police cruisers, a new vehicle for the town’s administrative staff, and a boom truck and mower for the street department.

The board also discussed the need for additional space at the fire station that ranged from the installation of a new carport-style truck bay to a building expansion with a new bay and second level quarters for fire personnel.

Other items at the top of the town needs list included a roster of sidewalk and street repairs to begin on Elm Street, a new permanent traffic signal at the Second Street entrance to Food City, replacement of the two spillway bridges on the Linear Trail and a new liner for the swimming pool at Fishery Park.

Bishop told the board the town’s application for a local Government Assistance Grant made available by the state in the wake of the pandemic could help with any of the capital expenditures that can be completed before the end of the current calendar year.

The board will meet for another work session on the budget at 9 a.m. on June 18.