HARRISONBURG-- City Council members held a public hearing on the proposed budget for the next fiscal year on Tuesday night. Council decided against voting on the budget Tuesday. It will hold a work session May 1, before considering the budget in mid-May.
The city manager's budget proposal includes a four cent real estate tax increase, increasing the tax to 67 cents. In a letter to the city council, Kurt Hodgen, the city manager, noted the tax would still be the second lowest of Virginia's 39 cities.
The proposed budget also includes water and sewer fee increases. It's about $10 million more than the previous year.
City Councilman Abe Shearer said the increases reflect the expanding population. "In my mind, it seems somewhat inevitable. We're a growing city. There's 51,000 people in Harrisonburg now. It's growing about a thousand per year. We're a large city at this point, and large cities require more services. That's why people live in cities," he said.
Shearer said he expects many nonprofit and other groups will be at the hearing to ask for funding. He said he had questions about the budget that needed to be addressed before he could say if it would pass on first-read on Tuesday.
Shearer also said he had not heard too much from constituents. "The public is waiting to hear what council has to say about it. There hasn't been a lot said about it. I think that the majority of people in Harrisonburg understand that our city is growing and that this is one of those things that comes with a growing city," he said.