At the Board of Aldermen meeting Monday night, Town Manager Warren Cabe presented the board with his budget for the 2013- 2014 fiscal year. This is the first step towards finalizing a budget for the year and the budget could see changes in the upcoming weeks before it is adopted. The fiscal year begins on July 1.
At the town retreat last month, Cabe had expressed to the board that he did not want to see any tax increases and the budget as presented reflects this sentiment. The current tax rate is $0.25 for every $100 and will remain at that rate.
Cabe's plan for town personnel calls for a two percent cost of living adjustment for all positions and for one management position in the fire department budget to be split into two entry level staff positions. He has also suggested that funds should be allocated to hire a part time employee to assist with mowing and general maintenance in the spring and summer.
“In lieu of replacing a full-time employee in the streets department, funds are allocated to hire a part time employee,” said Cabe.
Under the Operating Capital Outlay portion of the budget, Cabe said that the police department will need to replace two patrol vehicles that have excessive miles on them. The public works department will also have to replace a half-ton pickup truck that was needed last year, but had been staved off until this year's budget cycle. There is also a need for a leaf vacuum and a leaf collection box that is used with department trucks.
The gazebo at Town Square will see some upgrades in the upcoming fiscal year if the proposed budget is approved. Appropriations for the planning of the Whitmire property can also be found in the proposal. At the April retreat, the board also discussed potential plans for the property which consisted of perhaps an area for a park, bike trails, or a civic center type structure.
Funds for four water and sewer replacement projects and a refurbished belt press at the sewer plant are allocated, as well as funds for a flow study of the Cartoogechaye Creek with consideration of the possibility of a water plant upgrade or expansion within the next five years.
In the 2012-2013 budget, a water and sewer rate increase was initiated to be completed over the span of two years. The 2013-2014 budget will complete the increase with rates climbing from $1.90 to $2.50 per 1,000 gallons of water used by residential water services. Sewer services will also see a rate hike from $.27 per 100 gallons to $.35 per 100 gallons usage.
“These increases are necessary to fund debt service on the new sewer plant renovation and provide funding for future water treatment facility renovations,” said Cabe.
The police and fire departments will also see equipment upgrades over the next year with the police getting new bulletproof vests and the fire department receiving new uniforms and protective gear.
The 2013-2014 fiscal year budget is currently slated to be $8,561,500 which is higher that the 2012-2013 budget of $8,387,000.
“Although there are many issues for consideration by the North Carolina legislature that may have profound effects on municipalities and possibly our funding sources, this budget was developed based on current conditions,” said Cabe. “Any significant changes that develop at a later date concerning municipalities will require further consideration and subsequent action.”
Police Chief David Adams was also at the meeting to issue an equipment request and amendment to the budget.
“To keep up with the criminals who are out there we want to replace the shotguns that we currently use with eight Bushmaster rifles,” said Adams. “The money that we would use is state money collected during drug seizures. [State Unauthorized Substances Tax Collections Fund]
The total bill of the purchase would be $3,280 or $400 each, plus the shipping price. The typical retail price for a Bushmaster XM15-E2S is around $1,300 each, but since the sale would be to a police department, AmChar Wholesale, Inc. was able to offer a more suitable price tag.
Town clerk Janet Anderson confirmed the availability of the state funds and the board voted to unanimously approve the purchase.
The board will review the proposed budget until the budget work session scheduled for Tuesday, May 14, at 5:30 p.m. at Town Hall where the board and department heads will discuss the budget and potential changes. The public will have an opportunity to attend a hearing on Monday, June 3, at 7:05 p.m. in the same location for final discussions of the budget.