Cary News

Cary approves budget, tax hike

The town will remove medians on Morrisville Parkway, prepare for fiber installation requests and raise the property tax rate by two cents starting July 1.

On June 25, the Cary Town Council unanimously approved a $295 million budget for the next fiscal year, increasing spending from the $261 million budget from this year.

Council members praised the budget for addressing the town’s needs and keeping Cary’s property tax rate low.

The 2-cent property tax rate increase would pay for debt associated with bonds sold that Cary voters approved in a bond referendum in 2012. Barring tax cuts in other Wake towns, which are unlikely, Cary’s property tax rate will remain the lowest in the county at 37 cents per $100 of value.

“I’m 99 percent satisfied with this budget,” Councilman Don Frantz said, adding that he only wished Cary had more money to address more of the town’s needs.

Councilman Ed Yerha said the plan has received the “most scrutiny” of any budget in recent years because the town’s needs are growing while some revenue sources have been cut off.

How they got here

Ben Shivar, Cary’s town manager, initially proposed a budget that included a 3-cent tax increase. The additional cent was needed to generate enough revenue to compensate for $1.5 million that Cary expects to lose next year with the elimination of the privilege tax, he said.

But, in early June, Shivar rescinded that recommendation after evaluating the latest projections for incoming electricity sales tax revenues. The N.C. General Assembly in 2013 changed the formula for how it distributes electricity sales tax revenues, but budget planners weren’t certain how the change would affect Cary until they reviewed revenue reports from the third quarter of this fiscal year.

The town expects those revenues to make up for the loss of the privilege tax, Shivar said.

What’s in it?

The budget includes about $78 million for capital projects, and much of that goes toward increasing Cary’s water and sewer capacity.

More than $10 million will go toward transportation projects, including $1.2 million to remove the medians at the intersection of Morrisville Parkway and Carpenter Upchurch Road. The medians currently restrict some traffic movements at the intersection, which includes a railroad crossing. Cars traveling east on Morrisville Parkway cannot turn left to go north on Carpenter Upchurch Road.

The budget includes more than $3 million for parks and recreation projects, including $900,000 in upgrades to the USA Baseball National Training Facility and $400,000 for improvements at WakeMed Soccer Park.

It includes about $668,000 to help departments prepare for private sector requests to install Internet fiber.

Google Fiber announced earlier this year that Cary is one of seven municipalities in the Triangle, including Raleigh, Durham, Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Garner and Morrisville, where the company plans to lay its fiber-optic cable and bring high-speed Internet.

It also includes money for another animal control officer. The town has had three officers since 2003, and service calls have increased 20 percent since then, according to town staff.

The town budgeted $96,000 to add another position.

“I don’t know how many years we’ve talked about hiring another animal control officer,” Frantz said in support of the move.

Specht: 919-460-2608;

Twitter: @AndySpecht

Other business

▪ The Cary Town Council approved an $150,000 economic incentive grant for Proto Labs, a Minnesota-based company that recently agreed to invest $25 million and create more than 170 jobs in Cary over the next five years. Gov. Pat McCrory’s office announced the company’s expansion plans June 18. The company is eligible to receive a $150,00 grant from the One North Carolina Fund if it meets its hiring and investment targets. The Cary council’s action Thursday is for the grant’s required match.

The company currently employes 106 people in Raleigh. It will build a plant in Cary but hasn’t disclosed its location.

▪ The council agreed to award a $3.5 million contract to Sanford Contractors to build a 6,700-foot water line along Green Level West Road and Wimberly Road. The project, which will ultimately help Cary expand its water capacity, will cross the American Tobacco Trail but won’t disrupt it, according to staff.

▪ The council also agreed to launch a nationwide search for a new town manager. Ben Shivar, the current town manager, announced in June that he plans to retire at the end of September. The town will search internally and externally, Mayor Harold Weinbrecht said.

“The goal is to do it in three to four months,” he said.