Town approves $1.7 million budget for FY 2024

by Geoff Fox & Kate Shunney

During a special town meeting on Thursday, May 25, town officials formally unanimously approved the Town of Hancock’s fiscal year 2024 budget of $1.7 million.

The largest portion of the budget’s income comes from taxes and fees.

In the proposed budget, general property taxes are expected to bring in $726,500 in revenue, with a rise in revenue attributed to more property taxes brought on from Trulieve assets.

The town also expects to receive $135,100 from its portion of state property taxes.

Also included in the town’s revenue for 2023-2024 is the remainder of America Rescue Plan Funds. That fund is expected to drop from $654,047 in the current fiscal year to $250,000 in FY 2024 due to the expenditure of $400,000 for the Pennsylvania Avenue pump station work. Those federal funds were given to towns and counties during COVID-19 to invest in infrastructure projects, primarily.

Another source of revenue in the coming year could be the possible sale of the town’s current public works building along Main Street.

Town Manager Mike Faith said there is a possible deal for the property pending, but nothing official has been signed or announced.

Town officials budgeted an income of $500,000 for that potential deal, which Faith calls a “pretty fair estimate.”

“We want something there, that yellow building, something that actually generates tax revenue and that contributes to the town,” Faith said.

If that deal doesn’t go through, Faith said the town might hire a professional real estate broker who specializes in commercial properties to market the property.

In total, the Town of Hancock expects revenue of $1.71 million in the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1. That’s up from $1.6 million this fiscal year.

Town officials approved expenses for the multiple departments of town operations for the coming year.

Parks and Recreation expenses are expected to rise significantly in the coming year, with $90,000 budgeted for engineering expenses for a pool/splash pad for the town. The town also expects to spend $10,000 on pavilion maintenance.

Total operating expenses for the town are expected to drop in FY 24, with grant matches zeroed out on the budget sheet over last year. Hancock will pay Greenwill Consulting, their lobbyists, $75,000 in the coming fiscal year for their services – an increase from $50,000 last year.

The largest category of expenditures is Capital Projects, which includes sewer line repairs and pump station rehabilitation, adding up to $1.53 million. Capital expenses are a standalone category of the budget.

There is money in the budget this year for improvements to Town Hall as it is in desperate need of a new roof, Faith said. There is $200,000 in the FY 24 budget for Community Center maintenance.

There have been investments into the Police Department last year in the form of new guns and holsters, vests, and extra equipment for a fifth officer candidate who dropped out of the academy.

This year’s total public safety budget is for $95,500 with money needed for firearms and ammunition, vehicle fuel and maintenance, small equipment purchases, National Night Out, and other needs.

There are no new vehicles scheduled to be purchased this fiscal year.

If the town were to hire a fifth police officer, Faith said a new police vehicle could be purchased. He added the town did apply for a government program where police vehicles could be purchased at a significant discount, however Faith said he hasn’t heard back in regards to the application and it could be some time before he does.

Faith said town officials have no plans to raise taxes and costs for Hancock residents on utilities and services.

The Water Department is expected to see revenue of $436,050 in the coming fiscal year, to cover $229,500 in expected expenses.

The Wastewater Department has projected revenues of $460,600, and expenses of $367,950.

Town sanitation revenue are estimated at $165,800, with expenses expected at $218,000. That expense includes a bill from Burgmeier’s for trash pickup services.

Faith said any resident who would want to see a copy of the town budget or would want to discuss the budget could contact him.

“I’d be happy to go over it with them. No problem at all,” he said. “It’s public information.”

He also said if people have concerns or suggestions, they can be discussed by the mayor and council for discussion.