Cary News

May 9, 2014

Proposed Cary budget calls for increased fees, but no tax hike

Residents likely won’t see a property tax increase in the coming year, but they would pay more each month for their water bill under a proposed town budget.

Residents likely won’t see a property tax increase in the coming year, but they would pay more each month for their water bill under a proposed town budget.

Cary Town Manager Ben Shivar presented a $209.3 million proposed operating budget to the Town Council on Thursday. The spending plan is an increase of 3.7 percent over the current budget, a sign that Cary is rebounding from the economic downturn.

Shivar said gains in the national economy “are starting to slowly make their way down to local communities.”

He cautioned that Cary hasn’t fully recovered, although he expects revenues to continue to increase in the coming years.

“While this is welcome news, it is still not cause for a big celebration at this point as we continue to struggle just a bit to meet citizen expectations for excellent service,” Shivar said.

Under Shivar’s proposal, the property tax rate would hold steady at 35 cents per $100 in valuation.

He recommends a 3.7 percent increase in water and sewer fees. The average residential customer would pay $2.21 more per month.

The increase would help pay for the Western Wake Regional Wastewater Reclamation Facility, a joint project between Cary and Apex.

The town had anticipated a 4.9 percent increase in water and sewer rates for the coming year, Shivar wrote in his budget message to the council. But the treatment plant is expected to come in about 10 percent below budget, saving the town $30 million.

Shivar is also recommending a 5 percent increase in building permit fees. The extra money would allow the town to hire a code enforcement specialist who would help streamline the inspections process for new development.

The town increased building permit fees this year for the first time in more than a decade, according to Shivar.

The proposal also calls for a $51.2 million capital budget, a 51 percent decrease from the current year.

The drop in spending is due to a water treat,emt plant, said Karl Knapp, Cary’s budget director. The town saw expenses for the project this year that won’t recur in the coming year.

Here are some proposed spending highlights:

• $5.3 million to build more than five miles of new water and sewer lines
• $5 million to repave streets
• $4.35 million to improve the Cary Tennis Park clubhouse, add covered courts and renovate existing courts; $1 million of the cost is expected to come from Wake County
• $2.2 million to upgrade aging infrastructure
• $800,000 to buy land for a new fire station in southwestern Cary
• $600,000 for sidewalk repairs and pedestrian improvements
• $577,000 to add six police officers to improve response times in northwestern Cary
• $150,000 for median landscaping
• $140,000 to expand C-Tran bus service from 8-10 p.m.
• $134,00 for roadside maintenance in western Cary
• $120,000 to create a small business loan incentive program to spur downtown development

The proposal calls for adding 25.5 staff positions. That would bring the total to 1,222 employees – about 8.2 per 1,000 Cary residents.

Shivar recommends spending $305,000 to redesign the town’s website and $89,000 to hire someone to manage the town’s online content.

The Town Council must adopt a budget by June 30. The new fiscal year begins July 1.

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