Chapel Hill News

Chapel Hill’s $104.8M draft budget keeps tax rate, stormwater fee

Roger Stancil
Roger Stancil

Next year’s draft $104.8 million budget maintains the town’s property tax rate while meeting as many Town Council goals as possible, Town Manager Roger Stancil says.

The town’s current property tax rate is 52.4 cents for every $100 in assessed value; the town tax bill is $1,542 for the owner of a $300,000 house.

Chapel Hill residents also pay a county tax rate of 87.8 cents and and a special city schools district tax rate of 20.84 cents. The county manager’s draft budget for next year maintains those tax rates, although the county commissioners could increase either one to pay for additional needs.

The draft budget presented Monday includes a $63 million general fund, or operating budget, plus separate budgets for transit, parking and other town expenses. The draft general fund budget is 2.14 percent more than this year’s $61.7 million budget and includes $2.7 million from the fund balance – a reserve account used to manage cash flow and pay for unforeseen expenses.

The council will hold a public hearing on the draft budget Monday, May 16. A decision could be made June 13.

The budget also keeps the town stormwater fee at its current rate – $26.15 for every 1,000 square feet of impervious surface, such as driveways and roofs. That fee could increase by $5 starting in 2018 to pay for stormwater improvements, Stancil said.

The town’s capital plan, which pays for construction projects, budgets $22 million for greenways, police and fire facilities, and street and sidewalk improvements, part of a $50 million, four-year investment in town construction projects.

Some of that money will be provided by a $40.3 million bond approved in November. The sale of the former library building on East Franklin Street also raised $1.7 million to help pay for a new multi-agency complex, including police, fire, and parks and recreation offices

The council could get a look at prospective sites by June, Stancil said.

He noted the capital budget does not include money for future projects on the American Legion site, on the 415 W. Franklin St. parking lot, at the Glen Lennox redevelopment or to clean up a coal ash dump at the Chapel Hill Police Department. It also does not address a recent proposal to move Fire Station No. 4 and a fire training facility on Weaver Dairy Road Extension and sell the land to the State Employees Credit Union.

Those projects are estimated at over $30 million, the budget states, and would require the council to change its priorities or increase the debt fund.

The budget does, however, give town employees a 3.5 percent raise – 2 percent in July and 1.5 percent in January. The town also would raise wages for part-time, temporary and seasonal workers to $12.75 an hour, Stancil said, using higher parks and recreation fees to help pay for those raises.

The biggest budget hit would be for employee insurance costs, expected to rise 16.9 percent after falling last year, Stancil said. The town also would put aside $525,000 to help pay future benefit costs for retirees, he said.

Tammy Grubb: 919-829-8926, @TammyGrubb

What’s next

The Town Council will hold a public hearing on this year’s draft budget on Monday, May 16, at 7 p.m. in Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Comments also can be submitted by mail to Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Chapel Hill, NC 27514; fax to 919-969-2063; or email to mayorandcouncil@townofchapelhill.org.

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