Mayor Jackie Holcombe will vote against the proposed $24.4 million budget, she told a group of Morrisville Chamber of Commerce members Thursday during her State of the Town address.
The draft budget, which proposes adding six positions without increasing revenue or cutting expenses, doesn’t make fiscal sense, she said.
About $800,000 will need to be taken from the fund balance to finance the 2013 proposed budget which is 12 percent larger than last year, Holcombe said.
The additional expenses are new firefighters, vehicle replacements, a new stormwater program, road maintenance and bond consulting fees, she said.
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Holcombe said she would like to see a one-cent tax rate increase from 36.65 cents to 37.65 cents per $100 of assessed value. The council’s reaction to Holcombe’s push for a tax increase has been mixed. Some support it, others would like to see one cent dedicated to road projects, and others are against any tax hike.
In April, the council by consensus told the staff they would not support an increase, and despite some compromises on a new stormwater fee since then, Holcombe said she still can’t support the draft budget.
“This is not the right budget for Morrisville,” she said. “The issue is not that it won’t work for the upcoming fiscal year, it is that this sets up an unsustainable approach. We’re getting ready to staff six people and that’s not a one-time expense.”
Three residents spoke in favor of a tax increase during a public hearing Tuesday.
The council appears more concerned about keeping the tax rate low than with keeping up the town, said Nicolle Tulve.
She pointed out that spending per capita has decreased in the past years.
“The town council is asking (staff) to not only do more for less, but do more for more people,” Tulve said.
Tulve, who owns a dog, said the pet waste collection stations are not emptied and refilled as they should be. She said she would be willing to see her tax bill go up by $100 a year.
Resident Kate Cooley moved to Morrisville about a year ago and she supported a modest tax increase. She said the town needs to think about its identity.
“I look around and say, do they want to concede to being a smaller stepchild, or as the motto suggests, the heart of the triangle?,”Cooley said. “(It’s) teetering toward a stepchild identity. By postponing maintenance I feel like we are proceeding in a downward spiral.”
That spiral, she said, could lead to business leaving if infrastructure and quality of life wasn’t maintained.
Former Councilman Peter Martin was concerned about the $800,000 deduction from the fund balance needed to balance the 2013 budget. He said he had never seen the general fund drawn down by that level.
“How is that money going to be replaced?” Martin asked.
He supported a small tax increase.
Although residents may not face a tax hike this year, they could face one next year if a $20 million bond referendum passes in November.
The Town Council will meet June 26 to vote on whether to move forward on bonds, not to exceed $3.5 million for upgrades to the Morrisville Aquatics and Fitness center, $2.2 million for the third phase of Morrisville Community Park, and $14.3 million for extending N.C. 54 from McCrimmon Parkway to Aviation Parkway.
To view a copy of the bond projects or the draft 2013 budget visit www.townofmorrisville.org. To view the Morrisville State of the Town presentation visit www.morrisvillechamber.org/files/810.pdf.