The Wendell town staff is requesting nearly $5.5 million in expenses for fiscal year 2016-17 with only about $4.9 million projected in general fund revenues.
“Obviously we’ve still got some work to do,” finance director Butch Kay said. “We’ve got $553,000 we have to find somehow, someway.”
The total is down from the $7.9 million budget the Wendell Board of Commissioners approved for this fiscal year, with the main difference being that the town received some loans this year that it is not getting next year.
Kay pledged to get the shortfall down by the May 9 presentation of the budget request to the board. “We will bring you a balanced budget somehow, someway,” he said.
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The board plans a public hearing on the budget for May 23 and adoption on June 13.
“So the bottom line is we need to find some things to take out, or we need to raise our property tax rate,” mayor Virginia Gray said.
Town manager Teresa Piner responded that she expected cuts would have to be made even with a tax increase: “We would imagine that there are going to have to be some things taken out no matter what.”
“The only thing we can control as a governing body,” Kay said of increasing revenue, “basically is the tax and the tax rate, what the tax generates.”
Gray said she would like for the parks and recreation department to start charging for services as neighboring towns have done.
“We’ve got to have a revenue stream here with our parks and rec department,” Gray said. “Other towns do it that way. ... We’ve got to quit being scared of our shadow around here, and other towns do it. We can’t grow and compete if we stay small-minded about it.”
Gray said she would like to see parks and recreation fees implemented soon.
“Because otherwise,” she said, “we keep saying we want more. We keep telling (Parks and Recreation director) Jeff (Polaski), ‘We want more. We want more. We want more,’ and it’s not doing anything but costing us.”
The largest request by department is more than $1.3 million for the police department. That is down from nearly $1.5 million for this year. Automotive expenses are down more than $2,000 there because of the lower price of gasoline, Kay said.
Salaries are up by $54,000, from $900,000 this year to $954,000 for next, an increase of 6 percent.
The emergency communications request is up by more than $3,000, from $62,578 to $65,927. Piner stressed that townspeople can help keep this cost down by not hanging up if they accidentally dial 911. Otherwise someone has to go out to check on the hang-up.
The department has no Governor’s Crime Commission grants on next year’s budget. Last year it received nearly $15,000 from the state.
After law enforcement, the second-largest expense by department is the more than $1 million public works is requesting. Salaries there are up 20 percent from $246,000 to $307,500. The department will be getting a new staff person with that increase, funded by the N.C. Department of Transportation Powell Bill, which provides money for municipal street maintenance and construction.
For now, the sidewalk maintenance request is up from $5,000 allocated this year to $30,000 requested for next.
Matt Goad: 919-829-4826