The public will have its final opportunity to say anything they want about the 2015-16 budget proposal at tonight’s town council meeting.
It will be the town’s second and final public hearing to hear input from residents, a month after no one attended the May 4 public hearing.
This year’s $28.4 million budget includes a 1.75-cent property tax increase. That is the equivalent of a $31.85 increase on the average $181,982 Garner home.
It is the equivalent of a $43.75 increase on a $250,000 home.
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Garner residents approved the 2013 bond referendum with the understanding that taxes would increase 2.75 cents over time to help pay for a new recreation center and renovations to sidewalks and greenways. Taxes were raised a penny last year to help fund new firemen.
The budget also includes a 2.5 percent adjustment to the the town’s pay plan, for employees whose positions were below market value. Employees whose positions were part of the study will not get raises unless they are at the bottom of the pay range. They will however, have the opportunity to make more money if they reach the top of their pay range.
All employees will be eligible for merit pay raises. The employee salary line item in the budget was bumped up 3 percent to pay for those raises.
New hires will also start at a higher salary.
The police department has budgeted $9,000 to pay for five new police body cameras for next year.
The recommended budget is on the town’s website and is available at the Southeast Regional Library.
The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the Garner Town Hall on 900 7th Ave.
Highway 50 bridge extension
The town council plans to adopt a resolution tonight asking the N.C. Department of Transportation to widen the N.C. Highway 50 bridge when it begins reconstruction, so the town can have the ability to widen U.S. Highway 70.
As Garner continues to grow, the town will soon look to widen U.S. Highway 70 from two lanes to three lanes.
The town council discussed the issue at its February retreat and agreed the first step will be to wide the lanes from White Oak Shopping Center to New Rand Road. It is funded in the 2013 bond referendum.
They will not go further because N.C. DOT plans to rebuild the Highway 50 bridge in Garner. The bridge was installed some time in the ‘50s in Garner when U.S. Highway 70 was constructed.
The town is requesting DOT extend the length of the bridge when they design and construct it to allow three lanes of traffic to pass underneath it in the future.