Cary News

Fuquay-Varina passes $18.1 million budget

Commissioners added $75,000 in funding for a phased Varina streetscape project study before approving an $18.1 million budget.

The project was recommended by Fuquay-Varina Commissioner Cindy Sheldon. The money, which will come out of the unassigned fund balance, will be used to develop a master streetscape plan along Broad Street from Fuquay-Varina High School to Ennis Street in front of the Home Depot.

Ultimately, the project could look like what’s already in place on the Fuquay side of town, said Planning Director Mike Sorensen. Work on the master plan is expected to begin this upcoming budget year, he said.

Within the past decade the town has spent about $2 million burying power lines, installing sidewalks, benches and streetlamps along the downtown corridor with most of the work on the Fuquay side.

Residents and businesses will also see a 3 percent increase in their water bills, although the rates are expected to stay the same.

Fuquay-Varina is changing its water consumption base. Instead of a 1,500 per gallon base rate, customers will now be charged per 1,000 gallons. Residential consumers will be charged $9.55 for the initial 1,000 gallons and $4.46 for each 1,000 gallons after that.

As a result, water revenues are expected to increase by $111,054 in 2013. The additional funds are needed to keep up with the debt service and capital improvements for water and sewer service, said Town Manager Jon Barlow.

The town is also trying to keep up with projected rate changes by its water suppliers which include Raleigh, Johnston County and Harnett County.

By the 2015 fiscal year the town will convert from a 1,000 per gallon base rate to no base rate, and residents will pay for what they actually use.

The property tax rate will stay the same at 38.5 cents per $100 of assessed value, according to the budget approved Monday.

The $18.1 million general fund budget for 2013 is an increase of about $2.3 million over 2012. About $2 million will go toward a new public-services facility and $322,000 in bonds for the construction of the next section of Judd Parkway. The $2 million for the new public services facility will come from the unassigned fund balance.

Fuquay-Varina also intends to hire two police officers and one firefighter, offer a facade grant program to businesses, build a dog park, renovate the Johnson House at Mineral Spring Park and give employees a 2.3 percent cost-of-living raise.

Barlow said the town will seek public input when building the dog park on Depot Street. The $32,000 project is expected to be completed within the next 12 months.