Chapel Hill News

June 6, 2014

Chapel Hill could OK 1-cent tax-rate increase

The Town Council could vote Monday on a budget that raises the tax rate by a penny next year to help pay some of the town’s future debt.

The Town Council could vote Monday for a budget that raises Chapel Hill’s tax rate by a penny next year to help pay some of the town’s future debt.

A penny increase would make the tax rate 52.4 cents for every $100 in assessed property value. The tax bill for the owner of a house valued at $300,000 would be $1,542.

Right now the town could take on $20 million in additional debt by 2017 for future needs. Putting a penny tax toward the debt fund would allow the town to borrow another $10 million, said business management director Ken Pennoyer.

The budget also restores money to the town’s street resurfacing fund, pays for a teen-engagement specialist and gives town employees a 3 percent market-rate pay increase. It would set aside money equal to another penny on the tax rate, or roughly $755,000, for affordable housing.

Town staff found the money for affordable housing by combining $188,750 already in the housing budget with $145,000 from a delayed solid-waste pilot project and $355,000 in developer fees that could be paid for Ephesus-Fordham redevelopment projects.

Future building needs

Town Manager Roger Stancil said the town has identified $159 million in building needs through 2019, but only has about half of the necessary money.

Four projects – a new police department, a solid waste transfer station, five new fire stations and a new parks and recreation office – are already being planned at a combined cost of $46 million.

The town doesn’t have land for a police station yet, but it has found sites for at least two fire stations.

Station No. 2 on South Hamilton Road could be built as part of a public-private, mixed-use development. The town is seeking bids now from companies who could temporarily relocate the station while rebuilding the 1.1-acre site. Another station at the corner of Elliott Road and East Franklin Street could move eventually to a new station on 1.5 acres off Legion Road.

Other projects include stormwater improvements and maintenance, local greenways, sidewalks and bike plans. The town also has a number of street repaving projects that have been delayed in previous years to save money.

Council member Matt Czajkowski said building new parks, greenways and bike facilities “make people feel good about where they live.”

“For them to be deferred many years into the future, I think, makes them more a dream than reality,” he said. “Those elements of quality of life become so much more tangible, because they are closer and people can see them.”

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