Town leadership is coming out on the other side of the preparation of the 2016 budget draft with a sigh of relief.
With sales tax revenues up 13 percent so far this year, Knightdale’s budget received an unexpected boost.
“Because of the increase in population and the improvement in the economy, our sales tax has grown about $200,000 or 8 percent last year and we are on pace this year,” Knightdale Finance Officer James Overton said.
With pre-sales and sales already being made at Cheswick and Knightdale Station, as well as the town saving some funds from employee turnover throughout the year, the town didn’t have to do as much belt-tightening as expected, Overton said.
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In fact, they were able to amend this year’s budget and tackle some current equipment needs in this fiscal year, such as a storage building at the community park and adding a volunteer bunkroom for the fire department.
Estimated revenues and expenditures balance out at $13,944,194. In order to avoid being in the red, staff recommended transferring $240,000 from their fund balance.
“That’s not a whole lot, our fund balance is in pretty good shape,” Overton said in a June 4 interview.
Overall, the town saw real property values increase 2.2 percent and overall motor vehicle values surprisingly jumped by $8 million. Increased revenue from property tax from vehicle registration has also boosted revenues.
The town doesn’t plan to increase taxes, according to the draft Town Manager Seth Lawless proposed and Overton presented at Monday night’s town meeting.
However, residents could still be impacted by a proposed 5 percent county-wide real-estate tax increase, or 2.9 cents per $100 of property value.
Under donations to nonprofits, a budget line where the town contributes annually to projects that benefit Knightdale residents, the council decided to contribute $1,000 to the Northside Compassion Project – to build a transitional house aimed at single-parent, Knightdale residents who have graduated from recovery programs – and increase a contribution to the Raleigh-based African-American Cultural Festival to $2,000.
To pay for this adjustment, staff appropriated funds from the beer and wine tax revenue received from N.C. Department of Revenue, which also increased $1,500.
Highlights of the town’s $13.9 million budget include:
▪ Departments are applying for $353,197 in grants this coming year versus fiscal year 2015, when they only received $79,074 in local and federal grants. The most substantial new grant application includes $228,003 for two more DWI officers under the N.C. Department of Transpotation’s Governor’s Highways Safety Program.
▪ Monthly water fees will increase six percent effective July 1, so residents will pay about $8.05 for inside or $19.81 for outside per 1,000 gallons. Administrative fees will hit $7.90 for inside and $15.80 for outside.
▪ Sewer fee rates will also increase 6 percent so residents will pay about $6.99 monthly per 1,000 gallons in addition to a $7.90 administrative fee.
▪ Full-time town employees will cost the town about a third of their budget at $4.6 million, including $120,840 available for merit raises.
▪ Public safety requests dominated 35 percent of the general fund expenditures. The police department will most notably add four SUVs and be outfitted with 20 body cameras totaling about $8,000. The town will also pitch in toward grants for the two DWI officers and grants for updated radios.
▪ On the town’s to-do list, projects like storm water projects, street resurfacing and adding LED lights over Knightdale Boulevard will total about $782,000.