The Archer Lodge Town Council wants to raise taxes for the first time in the town’s brief history, building a nickel increase into the 2016-17 budget.
At 20 cents per $100 of assessed value, the town’s tax rate would remain the lowest in Johnston County, but coupled with growth in the tax base, the rate increase would push Archer Lodge’s budget north of $1 million for the first time.
Residents will have a chance to comment on the town’s proposed $1,047,025 budget during a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Monday.
Without a full-time town manager, Archer Lodge’s council, administrative consultant C.L. Gobble and clerk Kim Batten compiled the town’s budget. Councilman Carlton Vinson serves as budget officer and said the town’s plan to buy and develop parkland is driving the need to raise taxes.
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“We’re trying to enhance our parks and recreation resources,” Vinson said. “That can’t be done for free. You’ve got to have funds to do that with, so we want to try and supplement our revenue stream so that when we identify a piece of land we like, we have a bank of money that’s ready to go.”
Vinson pointed out that going from a 15 cents to 20 cents would still leave Archer Lodge as the lowest-taxed town in Johnston County. But the number of town services is also well below what other Johnston towns offer.
Archer Lodge has planning and zoning, fire and administrative departments, with residents turning to Johnston County for water and sewer, police and trash collection and the Town of Clayton for animal control. The Archer Lodge Community Center handles parks and recreation, but for the past few years, town hall has been trying to secure parkland to take over and expand youth sports in the community.
“Recreation is a major thing on citizens’ minds,” Vinson said. “We’ve been behind on this for years if you look at it in terms of programming. We have 4,500 people using a little over four acres of parkland. It hasn’t been enough for a long time, and citizens are going to Wendell and Clayton simply because we don’t have the resources to provide it.”
The proposed budget includes $102,065 for the town’s park fund. Vinson said the council hopes to select and move on a piece of land this year.
Archer Lodge’s tax rate is low, but a 5-cent increase won’t go unnoticed on residents’ tax bills. A family with a $150,000 home can expect to pay $300 next year, an increase of $75. For those driving $30,000 cars, the bill would be $60, up $15 from the current year. The tax hike, coupled with growth, will net Archer Lodge about $140,000 in additional revenue in a budget proposed to grow $200,000 over last year.
“It’s not like a penny increase here brings in a huge amount of money,” Vinson said. “We started low, and we’re still far lower than anyone else in the county.”
Beyond future parkland, Vinson said the added revenue would go to administrative costs, namely a set schedule putting Gobble in town hall twice a week instead of as needed. The money would also buy software that would make town minutes, documents and other information better accessible online.
A public hearing on Archer Lodge’s proposed budget is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 6, at at Town Hall. To view the proposed budget, go to www.townofarcherlodge.com.
In other budget notables:
▪ The town looks to spend $50,000 to expand the parking lot around town hall.
▪ The town would balance its budget by taking $105,000 out of savings.
▪ because lower than expected call volume, the town’s animal-control contract with Clayton would fall from $18,000 to $8,000.
▪ The town would charge 25 cents per page for copies made at town hall.
Drew Jackson: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104; @jdrewjackson