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As Roanoke Rapids City Council prepares to head into budget discussions for the upcoming fiscal year, City Manager Kelly Traynham said it is too early to know whether the financial plan can be crafted without the use of fund balance or an increase in the tax rate.

The council approved the budget calendar for the 2023-24 fiscal year at its meeting Tuesday.

Traynham told the council that department heads have submitted their budget requests to the finance director. “The finance staff is in the process of assembling the data for us to have some individual meetings with departments as well.”

April 3 through 14 has been set aside for budget work sessions with the council and mayor with the times, dates and locations to be determined later.

The target, Traynham said, is to have the recommended budget presented on May 2 with a public hearing scheduled for May 16 and possible adoption of the plan on June 6. There is also a June 20 date set if the budget doesn’t pass on June 6.

Traynham said the city is still in the information-gathering stage of the process. “We still do not have any revenue estimates. They’ll probably come in some time in April. Input will be requested throughout the process.”

Four-month theater budget

In another matter the council approved a $67,760 budget ordinance to cover four months of operational expenses at the Roanoke Rapids Theatre.

Public Works Director Larry Chalker said the budget is expected to carry the city through the end of the current fiscal year.

Any funds remaining at the end of June will be returned to the fund balance, Chalker said. 

The first budget adopted was for three months, the public works director said. “We’ve been running off that for quite some time now.”

Finance Director Carmen Johnson said there is $200 left in the previous budget.

Chalker explained to Councilman Wayne Smith that the $40,000 assigned to the electricity line item was purely a projection. “The power bill has been running between $1,500 and $2,000 per month in its dormant state.”

If there was to be an event scheduled, Chalker said, “Then that power bill could go up. If we had a rental in June and the temperature was 90 degrees, we’d have to turn the air conditioner on and it could cause that power bill to spike. We’re trying to budget for what could happen – not for definitely what will happen.”

Chalker said the same thing was done in the initial three-month budget. “We kept it well under control in that three-month budget. It’s lasted us until tonight.”

Since the building has been back in the city’s control, Chalker said it has had to replace a compressor at a cost of $5,000. “It was bad and we had to replace it. We’ve kept this building in immaculate shape. The hopes are to keep its market presence as good as it can be when we show it to somebody.”

Councilman Rex Stainback made the motion to adopt the budget ordinance on a second by Smith.