The Town Council approved a budget for the coming year that focuses heavily on Morrisville’s transportation and road needs.
The nearly $26.9 million spending plan includes $300,000 for the design of a road-improvement project. Another $300,000 is set for road maintenance to prevent wear and tear on roads.
A total of about $1.2 million will go toward road maintenance. Town leaders have started to allocate much more money to roads, said Mayor Mark Stohlman.
Five years ago, he said, Morrisville spent less than $300,000 a year on roads.
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As part of the approved spending plan, Morrisville residents will pay a higher vehicle license fee – $15 per vehicle, up from $10. The extra money is expected to generate $85,000 to be spent on roads.
The budget also includes $63,000 for the design of an upgrade at the intersection of McCrimmon Parkway and N.C. 54. Eventually, the town wants to consider adding more lanes over the railroad tracks in the area, Stohlman said.
“It’s still early in the process,” he said.
Morrisville leaders have said for years that transportation is a top priority. The town’s roads are busy during rush hour as commuters go to and from Research Triangle Park.
The N.C. 54 bypass project, which is in the design process, will likely ease some traffic woes. Construction is set to start in early 2016 and finish by August 2017.
In the meantime, Stohlman said, town leaders want to get rolling with smaller projects that could make a big impact.
“There’s a whole bunch of roads that need help around town,” Stohlman said.
It’s not clear how the $300,000 for the design of a road-improvement project will be used. One possibility is to design a plan to widen Morrisville Carpenter Road near Town Hall Drive.
“It’s very congested, especially during rush-hour traffic,” Stohlman said. “I consider it a very doable project.”
The budget does not include a property tax increase. The rate will remain at 39 cents per $100 of valuation.
But residents will pay a little more for some fees. Along with a vehicle tax hike, the budget also includes an increase in the stormwater utility fee. The fee will increase from $23 to $25 per 2,800 square feet of space.
Upgrades to aquatics center
Town services won’t be reduced during the coming year, and Morrisville has some projects on the horizon.
The budget includes $50,000 for a comprehensive study of the Morrisville Aquatics and Fitness Center. The study will focus on the feasibility of renovating or replacing the facility on Morrisville Parkway.
An additional $25,000 is set aside to resurface the main pool and the children’s pool at the center.
Repairs will be made during off-peak times, according to Jeanne Hooks, Morrisville’s budget director.
The budget allocates $50,000 to develop a branding plan to promote Morrisville. The initiative will focus on improving the town’s gateways and signs and will also involve plans to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War next year, Hooks said.
A historic Civil War battle site is in Morrisville.
The town also plans to spend $25,000 on a community survey that will gauge public opinion.