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No tax increase in Norris budget, passed on first reading

There will be no increase in Norris property taxes in the new fiscal year beginning July 1, and, at least for now, no raises in water or sewer rates, according to the preliminary budget, as approved last week on first reading by the City Council.

A public hearing has been set for 6 p.m. Monday, June 12, before second reading and expected final passage of the budget ordinance at the regular council meeting following the hearing.

Last year, Norris water and sewer customers saw steep raises in their bills — 25 percent for sewer service and 10 percent for water — in the 2022-23 budget, part of which was to help pay for employee salary increases and state-mandated improvements in the sewer system.

Just like last year, the new budget for 2023-24 holds the Norris property tax rate at $1.54 per each $100 of assessed value.

The only increase anywhere in collections will be for commercial dumpsters. That will not affect anyone with residential trash pickup, Mayor Chris Mitchell said.

For the new year, general fund revenue is expected to total $1,871,309.

Basic expenses are set at $1,716,433, and capital expenditures at $638,400 (excluding water and sewer).

Water and sewer fund revenue is projected to be $1,899,743, with operating expenses of $1,029,755 and capital expenses of $928,140.

Other budget categories include:

• State Street Aid Fund: Revenue, $55,900; capital expenses, $150,000.

• Watershed Fund: Revenue, $91,820; capital expenses, $36,500; operations and maintenance expenses, $85,908.

• Solid Waste Fund: Revenue, $157,572; capital expenses, none; operations and maintenance, $155,500.

Norris currently has no debt, either in the general fund or in the Water Commission, which has a separate budget. But that could change soon. Funding of the upgrades in the sewer system are expected to come from grants and new debt, which would be paid for by sewer rates charged to customers.

Under state law, the city cannot use property taxes or water rate increases to pay for sewer services.