The Town Council’s finance committee on Wednesday, May 25, started with nearly $800,000 too much in proposed expenses for fiscal year 2016-17, but it was able find enough cuts to eliminate the discrepancy without dipping into the town’s savings account or raising property taxes.
The town plans to keep the property tax rate at 43 cents per $100 valuation.
Town spokesman Brian Bowman said Wake County’s revaluation this year did not have a significant effect on the town’s revenues. Bowman said the town would need a slightly lower rate of 42.5 to stay revenue neutral after the revaluation.
The largest reduction in the proposed budget came when the town considered what would happen if it financed a $475,000 fire engine the Fire Department has requested over five years. Town Manager Seth Lawless suggested the move early in the meeting.
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Administrative Services Director Suzanne Yeatts, who kept a spreadsheet of the adjustments the committee made as the meeting went on, took the $475,000 for the engine off and added back $100,698 for one year’s worth of payments.
A new lieutenant position was cut from the Police Department’s request, cutting $79,883 in salary requests. A car and radio for the position were also cut, trimming a combined $50,491 from the request.
A request for streetlights along Knightdale Boulevard was cut from $200,000 to $75,000, meaning not as many lights will go up this year as originally planned, but trimming $125,000 from next year’s budget request.
The committee found $80,350 to cut in equipment and materials for aerating fields. Instead, the town will have to contract out for those services.
A dump truck that would have replaced one the town uses for infrequent trips to Wake Stone to haul material was cut, saving $66,500.
Finance officer Kim Kenney found one painless cut when she realized a website upgrade was requested twice, once in the town manager’s office budget and once in the information technology budget, so that eliminated the duplicated $31,500.
The upgrade is needed, town leaders say, because the town’s provider will soon not support the website. The town would bid the project out.
The Parks and Recreation Department, which does not have a vehicle, will have to wait at least another year to get one, as the committee cut a Ford F-150 pickup it had requested out of the proposed budget, saving $21,199.
The committee also decided the Fire Department would get a Ford F-150 rather than the F-250 it had requested, saving $4,000.
Another notable item cut was a mural on Main Street that would have cost $20,000.
Most of the other cuts the committee backed were less than $10,000.
Now that the finance committee has gotten the proposed budget balanced, the entire council is to receive the budget at its Monday, June 6, meeting. It is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the budget at its meeting Wednesday, June 15. Adoption also is expected June 15.
The budget would take effect July 1.
Matt Goad: 919-829-4826