Changes to trash pickup fees, costly renovations to the town fitness center and potential apartment buildings and hotel construction are among the issues Morrisville officials are expected to address Tuesday night.
All of these issues have been discussed before and drew some debate, most notably the trash fees, which divided the council.
The town’s residential trash pickup is currently funded through its property tax rate. The town will need to raise the property tax rate by two cents in the upcoming budget cycle to help pay for the 2012 bond referendum.
As a result, some have suggested removing trash from the tax rate and funding it with a user fee instead.
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If the council wants the changes to go into effect with the fiscal year that starts in July, they will need to make a decision now.
Tony Chiotakis, the assistant town manager, has said the town’s staff can implement any option this summer – but only if there’s a decision this month.
Proponents of a user fee argue that it’s a good move politically and for economic development to keep the tax rate low.
They also say a user fee would be more fair than the current tax-funded method. Businesses subsidize the collection but only residents take advantage of the trash pick-up services.
Yet other town officials say a fee would be too onerous on residents with homeowners potentially paying an additional $200 a year.
The issue came up again at the council’s last meeting on March 24. But council members Michael Schlink and TJ Cawley were both absent, so the rest of the council decided not to take a vote until the full board could take action.
“I think we’re not in agreement on which problem we want to solve,” Vicki Scroggins-Johnson said. “We each have a different problem in mind ... and that’s why we’re having such robust discussion.”
Aquatic sticker shock
The town council also could revive discussions on different plans for improving the Morrisville Aquatic and Fitness Center.
Improvements to that building were part of the 2012 bond referendum, which is part of the trash fee debate. Residents approved $5.7 million for parks and recreation projects in that bond, and town staff originally planned to spend about $4 million on the MAFC and $1 million on Morrisville Community Park.
But a consulting firm told the council last month that the four potential plans, including the plan with the fewest improvements, still would be over budget.
A new pool would cost $5 million, meaning almost no other work could be done at Morrisville Community Park or on other parts of the center unless the town council raises taxes or comes up with another source of revenue.
Other plans could cost $16 to $17 million. One proposal moves the facility to the main street the town is considering creating. Some council members said it could be a draw for residents and retail tenants. A location for the main street center hasn’t been determined.
The council put off voting on any of the options at its last meeting, again citing the absence of two members.
Apartments and hotel
Tuesday’s meeting also will include the final public hearing on a proposed hotel on Airport Boulevard near Sorrel Grove Church Road.
A final vote on the proposal will be at the board’s meeting April 28. At issue is whether the hotel would harm nearby landowners.
Another issue that could resurface in discussions is the Perimeter Park Apartments proposal.
The office park’s owner, Duke Realty, wants to build 250 to 275 apartments just north of Perimeter Park.
But the proposed site is split between Durham and Wake counties, which could cause headaches when it comes time to determine in which county residents would vote, pay taxes, draw social services or attend school.
Stephanie Embry, a Morrisville resident, said at the last meeting that it would be “absurd” for the town to allow a cross-border residential project.
But a representative and a lawyer for the property owner said they think the concerns are exaggerated, and asked for town approval.
Mayor Pro Tem Liz Johnson said she wanted to discuss the issue more, possibly on Tuesday.
“Somehow it needs to be addressed,” Johnson said at the time. “And I think we have different ideas on how to do that, quite frankly.”
The town could face similar questions again soon, staffers said, because the Kitts Creek neighborhood will likely spill over into Durham.
Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran
Want to go?
The Morrisville Town Council meeting is Tuesday, April 14, at 6 p.m. at Town Hall, 100 Town Hall Drive.