The Rocky Mount Town Council approved its budget for the 2021 fiscal year during its monthly meeting June 8.

The town is expecting a significant decrease in its operating budget compared to the previous year at $9.6 million — nearly $500,000 less than last fiscal year’s budget. Finance Director Linda Woody said the reductions were made due to the uncertain economic future caused by COVID-19.

“We are in strange times with this coronavirus,” Woody said.

The town’s general fund was reduced by $341,000 for the 2021 fiscal year budget. The utility fund was reduced by $115,000.

Woody said all the cuts were made across the board. “All departments’ operating costs were cut,” she said.

The town also cut back on its contribution to the Harvester Performance Center for the upcoming fiscal year by nearly $70,000. The town will be providing $405,000 for the center’s operations.

Woody said $319,000 of that funding is provided for operating costs while $85,000 is rent that the Harvester pays to the town. The rent funds are then returned to the venue.

The Harvester recently reported a $158,000 loss in 2019 due to a lower than expected turnout at some performances. Revenue is also expected to be down this year due to several events being canceled or postponed due to COVID-19.

Woody said there has been no decisions on how the venue will make up the loss in revenue. “Anything performance related has to be covered by the Harvester,” she said.

The town could provide assistance to make up the loss, but there have been no discussions so far, Woody said.

The approved budget will keep the town’s real estate tax rate at 13 cents per $100 of assessed value. While the rate remains the same, reassessments held last year increased property values in the town by an average of 6.8%, resulting in higher taxes for for some residents.

Additional revenue from the reassesments is not expected to have a major impact on the budget. It will bring in approximately $40,000 in additional revenue for the town, Woody said.

Because of the current uncertainty of when businesses will fully reopen due to COVID-19, Woody said the town council plans to review the budget again in December. The council will see if any adjustments need to be made to increase the budget from what was proposed or to lower estimates.

“Hopefully it will go up, but you just don’t know,” Woody said.

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