There were no surprises as town leaders approved an $8.2 million spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year.
The budget, passed Wednesday, looked much like the first draft of the plan town staff presented in April.
“We just basically pared down everybody’s wants before the first draft, weeded out the things that weren’t realistic and wouldn’t have made it through,” said Finance Director Bobby Fitts. “We asked everyone what their greatest need was – what do you have to have – instead of wasting time and energy on putting all this stuff in there that’s going to be taken out. We were realistic and conservative.”
Over the course of the process, town leaders added WiFi for town hall as a capital project at the recommendation of Commissioner Beverly Clark. The budgeted cost of WiFi later increased from $6,500 to $7,500 with plans to extend the service to the police department.
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The town’s planned commitment to GoTriangle (formerly Triangle Transit) for bus service to and from Raleigh decreased since the initial draft, from $14,000 to $4,400. It was decided at a meeting with transit officials in May that the town would only need to cover the cost of renting the park-and-ride space in the Compare Foods parking lot on West Gannon Avenue.
“The (Zebulon-Wendell Express) route was meeting certain performance standards that allowed for the only charge to the town to be the parking lot,” Fitts said. The town’s previous commitment included operational costs.
The only other notable adjustment was a $60,000 increase in projected property tax revenue, compared to Wake County’s first projection in March.
Taxes will remain at the current rate of 52.5 cents per $100 of property value. At that rate, a resident with property valued at $150,000 pays $787.50 in town taxes.
Garbage, parks and recreation and stormwater fees will also remain the same.
Water and sewer rates, however, will increase 5.5 percent to keep in line with the amended utilities merger with Raleigh and meet the projected payout goal of July 1, 2024. The increase is equal to $7.14 per month or $85.68 per year for a customer using 5,000 gallons of water per month.
Eleven capital projects, counting WiFi at the municipal complex, were included in Zebulon’s list of improvements for the upcoming year. They are projected to cost $529,600.
The most costly projects include street paving and repair ($115,000), and the replacement of a dump truck ($113,500) and two police vehicles ($90,000) using lease purchase financing.
The other projects are finishing Phase I of the stormwater improvements on Yates Place ($88,600, using transportation impact fees); a breathing air machine for the fire department ($48,000, lease purchase financing); tennis and basketball court resurfacing ($31,000); greenways and website redesign ($10,000 each); a GIS computer for the planning department ($9,500); and a voicemail server ($6,500).