Without raising taxes, fees or utility rates, Town Manager Steve Biggs will present the Clayton Town Council a $53.1 million budget request, an increase of more than $8 million over the current year.
The bulk of that increase is one-time spending for a second electrical substation to power the town’s growing north side. Biggs also proposes to add $1 million in recurring expenses to the town’s operations fund, bringing the total to $21.5 million for the year ahead.
As Biggs prepares to leave Clayton for Christiansburg, Va., this budget will be one he’ll write but won’t have to manage. Last year, Clayton was one of only two Johnston towns that balanced their budgets with tax increases. Clayton opted for a 2.5-cent hike, bringing the property tax rate to 55 cents per $100 of assessed value. It was the town’s first tax increase since 2006 and put Clayton’s rate tied with Micro for third highest in Johnston County, behind Kenly and Smithfield.
A growing Clayton means a growing Clayton budget, but Biggs has said new residents and new construction along highways 70 and 42 have revived some of the town’s revenue sources. Last year’s tax hike added $400,000 in property taxes, but in his proposed budget, Biggs projects an extra $225,000 this year with the rate unchanged.
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The bulk of the increase in the overall budget comes from more than $6 million in capital projects within the town’s electrical department, including a $4.6 million substation. The town looks to also add 22 new positions. Those positions are
▪ Three fire department battalion chiefs.
▪ Three fire department equipment operators.
▪ Three firefighters.
▪ Four property maintenance workers.
▪ Three sanitation workers in charge of yard waste.
▪ One water and sewer mechanic.
▪ One water and sewer regulatory-compliance technician.
▪ One GIS coordinator.
▪ One engineering administrative support worker.
▪ One electrical senior line technician.
▪ One conference center support specialist.
All but the GIS worker are funded for only part of the year. The budget also includes upgrading the deputy clerk from a part-time to a full-time job.
The three new sanitation workers will be in charge of yard waste and won’t come on until next year, when the town plans to bring curbside yard waste removal in-house and end its yard-waste contract with Waste Management.
Last year, Clayton raised its water and sewer rates and cut its electricity rates in response to public power towns selling their stake in power plants to Duke Energy. Biggs recommends keeping rates flat this year but said the town could use a rate study for its water and sewer system.
A big point of savings in this year’s budget came from putting Clayton employees on the state health-insurance plan, Biggs said.
“The budget benefited from the decision made in midyear to migrate into the state insurance pool, with overall savings in benefits costs this fiscal year,” Biggs wrote in his budget message. Last year, Biggs said rising health-insurance costs partially drove the need for the town’s tax increase.
Biggs will present his budget May 24 and the town council will hold a public hearing on the budget June 6, with a final draft ready by June 10. The council will then adopt the budget June 20.
Drew Jackson: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104; @jdrewjackson