The Town Council’s finance committee heard more budget requests on April 20, this time from the development services, public works and stormwater departments, and from nonprofit agencies requesting town funds.
Development services is requesting $954,677 for fiscal year 2016-17, up 20.5 percent from the 792,444 budgeted this year; public works $747,831, down 8.2 percent from $814,673 this year; and stormwater $411,241, up 15 percent from $357,573 this year. Nonprofits are requesting a total of $112,390, up 16.8 percent from $96,239 last year.
The largest request in the three department budgets is salaries: $371,587 for development services, up 2.3 percent from this year; $288,978 for public works, up 5.5 percent from this year; and $63,0484 for stormwater, down 11.5 percent from this year.
Development Services director Chris Hills noted that his department is very “people-centric,” despite all the equipment it also requires.
Committee chairman Pete Mangum asked Hills about a jump in the contract services item from $468 to $45,546, which is for bus service.
Hills said this year’s budget did include about $29,000 for the service but that the item has been moved to a new spot on the budget request spreadsheet. No grant funds are available for the service next year, he said.
“We finally have the referendum for the transit plan for Wake County,” Hills said, “at which time all our funds for this would be supplanted if it passes.”
But it would take time for the county to begin collecting revenue from the half-cent sales tax included in the referendum to fund the plan, Hills said, so he expects the town will need to continue funding bus service through the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017.
If the town were not to include funds for the service next year in hopes that the transit plan will fill in the gap, Hills said, and lose the route for a year, riders might be difficult to bring back.
After an analysis that Hills shared with the committee of the town’s contract for mowing and maintenance at the Interstate 540 interchange at Knightdale Boulevard and medians along Knightdale Boulevard, the town explored the possibility of taking on maintenance of these areas itself.
The town needs to budget more than $90,000 to contract for the mowing, according to the analysis. “This is a wise investment that protects the town’s sense of place,” it read, “But, since it is contracted out, we don’t get the benefit of the staff that could go along with this investment.”
The analysis looks at the possibility of hiring two maintenance workers at an annual cost of $107,450. These workers would flex between doing the mowing and other maintenance during the growing season and working with the operations division on facilities maintenance during the winter.
The plan would also require $103,000 in one-time capital costs to buy equipment.
The analysis concludes that this plan would give the town more control over the level of service and make the cost more predictable.
The committee also received the requested Capital Improvement Plan, which includes nearly $2 million for improvements at Harper Park.
Matt Goad: 919-829-4826