Smithfield Herald

May 16, 2014

Archer Lodge plans to increase spending on zoning, recreation

The Town of Archer Lodge, which has one full-time employee, plans to increase the amount of money it pays outside groups for services like planning, zoning and recreation.

The Town of Archer Lodge, which has one full-time employee, plans to increase the amount of money it pays outside groups for services like planning, zoning and recreation.

But despite the proposed spending hikes, town leaders don’t recommend changing the property-tax rate of 15 cent per $100 valuation, according to a 2014-15 spending plan released this week.

Since Archer Lodge became a town in 2009, its property-tax revenues have steadily grown to more than $400,000. However, during that time, the town’s nearly 4,400 citizens have started demanding more services for their tax dollars.

Mayor Michael Gordon said the time will come when Archer Lodge needs more than one employee, but that time isn’t now.

“The older we get and more involved we get in putting different things in place, you realize that it takes staff,” Gordon said. “In the future, we’ll have to hire somebody to truly manage the day-to-day operations.”

With just Town Clerk Jean Overton on its payroll, Archer Lodge has relied on private contractors and community agencies to carry out basic services typically provided by towns. Proposed spending in the next fiscal year includes:

•  Nearly $61,000 for planning and zoning services through N-Focus Planning and Design Inc., Kannapolis firm. The money pays for a zoning administrator who works at town hall at least two and a half days per week. The proposed spending is nearly double what the town budgeted for planning and zoning services this fiscal year.
•  About $70,000 for the Archer Lodge Community Center, which hosts two soccer leagues, plus baseball, lacrosse and some non-sports programming. The town budgeted $2,750 for recreation in 2011-12, $10,000 in 2012-13 and $15,000 in 2013-14.
•  About $180,000 to the Archer Lodge Fire Department, a standalone agency that provides fire protection inside the town limits. The proposed allocation of $180,391 is slightly lower than the $183,761 budgeted for fire services in 2013-14.

The town’s total proposed budget is $794,520. That includes a $50,000 transfer from the fund balance, or savings, to the capital reserve fund. The transfer is the town’s third of the same amount in consecutive years and goes toward a long-term effort to launch a police department.

Mayor Pro-Tem Carlton Vinson said the budget also includes $20,000 for street repairs.

“We don’t own any streets, and we haven’t had to spend money, but we want to stick our finger into the street-repair business and have budgeted some (money) to make the end of some non-paved roads a little safer to get in and out of,” Vinson said. Another $20,000 in the budget will expand a small parking lot next to town hall.

Citizens can comment on the proposed budget during a public hearing at 7 p.m. June 9. Any town resident can speak during the hearing, which will be held at the Archer Lodge Town Hall, 14094 Buffalo Road, Clayton.

Mayor to earn more

Under the proposed budget, the mayor’s pay would increase from $200 to $250 each month, or to $3,000 a year.

“Because we do not have a town manager and the mayor does a lot of that work himself, we agreed he should get a raise,” Vinson said.

The pay for the town’s five councilmen, which together totals $6,000 a year, would not change. Telephone, training and meeting stipends, which total $8,100, would also stay the same.

Budget writing

Overton, the town clerk, works at Archer Lodge Town Hall Monday through Friday and is oftentimes the face of the town for citizens with questions and concerns. She also serves as finance director, managing all of the town’s transactions.

During budget time, Overton sometimes consults with her husband, James, a certified public accountant who serves as finance director for the Town of Knightdale.

“We both have strong local government backgrounds,” Jean Overton said.

She said her husband helps out on rare occasions during the budget-writing process, adding that he is not paid for his services.

“We call that one of the fringe benefits of the clerk we have,” Gordon said. “He’s not complaining, and we’re not complaining.”

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