Eastern Wake News

Staff pay dominates proposed use of Zebulon’s tax base growth revenue

The proposed spending plan for the 2016-17 fiscal year, which will be presented Monday at a public hearing at Zebulon Town Hall, would designate about $385,000 toward new and existing staff and economic development.

At a meeting May 10 Mayor Bob Matheny asked for more information on the projected increase in revenue from growth compared to the town’s total property value. On May 18 town staff offered a breakdown of how the additional funds would be spent in the proposed budget.

“Basically, I had done some number-crunching myself and came up with these numbers and was curious,” Matheny said. “I never questioned that they were somewhere in the budget, but still, that’s the equivalent of a little over four cents on the tax rate.

“So if, in fact, you have four cents there, and five cents (in proposed dedicated tax increase), you’re talking about nine cents tax rate increase, and that’s kind of the way I was looking at it.”

Town staff is proposing a 5-cent increase to the current tax rate, to 57.5 cents per $100 of assessed value.

That rate is 8.2 cents more than the estimated rate needed to generate the same tax revenue as last year, prior to Wake County’s property revaluation. The revenue-neutral tax rate would be 49.3 cents per $100 of property value.

“We’re going to have to dig into all these numbers that you’ve given us,” Matheny said. “But I just thought this was important to realize it, because I didn’t really care about the state’s revenue-neutral formula because I didn’t think it made a lot of sense. But when you look at last year versus this year, that was (the way) I would do it.”

The town stands to gain $336,000 extra from growth, alone, in property tax revenue and another $55,000 in sales tax revenue, according to the report provided by Finance Director Bobby Fitts.

Of those revenues, Fitts said $173,900 is proposed to fund new personnel in the upcoming fiscal year – including an administrative intern ($6,980), an administrative part-time employee ($10,852), a code enforcement planner ($48,955), a buildings and grounds asset manager ($65,650) and a buildings and grounds equipment operator ($41,553). Another $91,015 is proposed to fund merit raises for existing personnel.

The additional revenue made way for town staff to recommend using $108,000 toward operating expenses in the stormwater department, moving stormwater fees collected from residents to cover the cost of related capital projects.

And another $10,000 of the extra money, using a portion of the sales tax increase, is proposed to be used toward a community and economic development partnership with the Zebulon Chamber of Commerce.