City Council on Tuesday night approved the Danville Public Schools budget of $59.1 million for operations in the next school year. Of the total, the city will again provide $17.4 million.
The vote was 8-1, with Councilman Lee Vogler casting the dissenting vote.
The School Board last month adopted a budget of $59.1 million for school operations from July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016. Before it can become official, state law requires City Council’s approval.
The budget figure approved last night by City Council does not include debt service and capital improvements. In its resolution approving the school system’s operating budget, City Council stated it also will provide $1.3 million for school debt service.
The School Board has requested $2.6 million from the city for capital improvements. The list currently includes shingle roof replacements at Schoolfield Elementary and Westwood Middle schools, roof repairs at G.L.H. Johnson Elementary School, new gutters at Gibson Elementary School, carpet and elevator repairs at Bonner Middle School and new gutters and fascia at Forest Hills Elementary School.
City Council is scheduled to vote on the capital improvements at its next meeting on May 19. If approved, the city then would be providing a total of $21.3 million to the school system for operations, debt service and capital improvements.
City Council also voted Tuesday night to raise the wastewater consumption rate and meter charge effective July 1. A utility rate study showed the need for an overall 3.5 percent increase in wastewater revenue. The rate and charges will be adjusted accordingly to generate the revenue target. As a result, the bill for the typical residential customer will increase by $1.85 a month.
The study recommended no increases this year in water, natural gas and electricity customer charges and rates.
However, the study projected increases would be needed next year to boost revenue for the cost of natural gas service by 2 percent and the cost of electricity service by 1.5 percent. Council tabled action on adjustments in rates and charges that would generate the added revenue.
Also at tonight’s business session, council held a public hearing on the proposed city budget and capital improvements plan for the next fiscal year. No citizens commented during the hearing.
As proposed municipal services and programs would remain at current levels with no increases in real estate, meals and lodging taxes. City Council must adopt a budget no later than June 30. The final budget will serve as a blueprint for city operations from July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016.
City Council is scheduled to vote whether to adopt the budget at its next meeting, which will be held on May 19. Until then, the proposed budget is available for review online at www.danvilleva.gov. Printed copies are available at the Danville Public Library and the city manager’s office.
Following the business session, Council reconvened in a work session for an overview of Duke Energy-funded improvements proposed for Abreu-Grogan Park. The improvements include a restroom, fishing platform, floating pier, landscaping, sidewalks and other infrastructure necessary to support these features. The project, which would cost an estimated $493,000, is expected to be complete by the end of 2015, depending on how quickly the US Corps of Engineers issues permits.
Also in the work session, Council discussed recommendations from a steering committee that spent seven months studying how best to cost effectively serve Danville’s electric customers.
The Danville Utility Commission has adopted those recommendations, which include the following steps:
• offer large industrial customers choice of power suppliers,
• hire a power supply consultant to help develop a plan to reduce transmission and congestion charges and assist in future power purchases,
• reduce the annual coincidental peak demand,
• install electric power generation facilities locally,
• evaluate the current policy for determining the Electric Fund contribution to the General Fund
• consider making the Utility Commission an independent governing body
• and evaluate the recommendations made by the Hometown Connections check-up report and make improvements where needed.
The consensus of the Utility Commission and the steering committee was that the sale of Danville’s electric utility would be too complex and cost-ineffective to pursue at this time.
In work sessions, Council reviews non-routine matters that will be voted upon in future business meetings.