The Town Council approved a $103 million budget Monday that maintains the town’s tax rate and existing services, while setting aside more money for other needs, including affordable housing and economic development.
The budget is balanced with $2.7 million from the town’s fund balance – an account used to manage cash flow and pay for unforeseen expenses.
It includes $63 million for day-to-day operations, about 2.2 percent more than this year’s $61.7 million budget, and $21.4 million in transit funding, roughly $967,000 of which would be used for replacement buses.
The transit budget is 1.9 percent less than this year’s budget, due to $934,000 in unexpected state funding.
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Town Manager Roger Stancil noted the local transit partners – Chapel Hill, Carrboro and UNC – will start work this fall on planning for sustainable future budgets. Federal and state governments have paid less for transit over the last several years, forcing the partners to pick up more of the tab. Carrboro’s share next year will be nearly $1.5 million; UNC will pay about $7.2 million.
The town’s property tax rate will remain 52.4 cents for every $100 in assessed value, generating a tax bill of $1,542 for the owner of a $300,000 house. Town residents also pay a county tax rate of 87.8 cents per $100 and and a special city schools district tax rate of 20.84 cents per $100.
The stormwater fee remains $26.15 for every 1,000 square feet of impervious surface, such as driveways and roofs, and the Downtown Service District Tax, which is levied on downtown property owners, remains 7.1 cents per $100 in assessed value.
The budget does increase some town fees, including for Parks and Recreation services and programs. Those increases will help raise salaries for part-time, temporary and seasonal workers to $12.75 an hour. Other town employees will get a 3.5 percent raise – 2 percent in July and 1.5 percent in January – and are seeing their health insurance costs rise 15.5 percent.
The council could consider at a later date whether to use $100,000 to create a business loan incentive program.
Next year’s budget addressed needs identified by the town and its citizens, including:
▪ Recreation: $15,000 for midday hours three days a week at the Chapel Hill Community Center pool
▪ Tourism: $25,000 more to help the Chapel Hill-Orange County Visitors Bureau counter HB2’s negative effects
▪ Housing: Includes $688,395 for affordable housing projects; $50,000 to develop a public housing master plan
▪ Nonprofits: Budget increased 22 percent to $411,500 for human service agencies
▪ Economy: $33,500 to expand the Launch business incubator on West Rosemary Street
▪ Weather: $30,000 to battle snow and ice next year
▪ Construction: $22 million in debt for greenways, public safety facilities, and streets and sidewalks; part of $60 million in construction projects and stormwater improvements planned over the next decade
▪ Public safety: $1.7 million from selling the town’s former library will pay to design a new multi-agency complex for police, fire, and other town offices