The town council unanimously voted to adopt a resolution asking the N.C. Department of Transportation to lengthen the N.C. Highway 50 bridge over U.S. 70, so the town can have the flexibility to widen its main thoroughfare when the time arises.
The N.C. Department of Transportation is currently planning to design and construct a new bridge on Highway 50 that crosses over U.S. 70. The current bridge was built and installed in the ’50s in Garner when U.S. 70 was built.
As Garner continues to grow, the town will soon look to widen U.S. Highway 70 from two lanes on each side to three lanes.
According to the resolution, “widening of U.S. 70 is a worthy long-range initiative with statewide benefits and the Town has dedicated significant 2013 Bond Referendum funds towards such a project.”
The town council discussed the issue at its February retreat and agreed the first step would be to widen the lanes from White Oak Shopping Center to New Rand Road. It is funded in the 2013 bond referendum.
The town is requesting DOT extend the length of the bridge and the abutments underneath so that extending the highway to three lanes will be possible.
The resolution also requests “the NCDOT to include robust, wide, and visually attractive pedestrian facilities and other enhancements (upgraded lighting and railings) on both sides of the bridge for safe walking,” and plan to do the same when it reconstructs the Vandora Springs Road bridge.
Public hearing on budget
The public had its final opportunity to say anything it wanted about the 2015-16 budget proposal at last Monday’s town council meeting, but no one spoke up.
It was the final public hearing to hear input from residents.
This year’s $28.4 million budget includes a 1.75-cent property tax increase. That is the equivalent of a $31.85 increase on the average $181,982 Garner home.
It is the equivalent of a $43.75 increase on a $250,000 home.
Garner residents approved the 2013 bond referendum with the understanding that taxes would increase 2.75 cents over time to help pay for a new recreation center and renovations to sidewalks and greenways. Taxes were raised a penny last year to help fund new firemen.
The budget also includes a 2.5 percent adjustment to the town’s pay plan, for employees whose positions were below market value. Employees whose positions were part of the study will not get raises unless they are at the bottom of the pay range. They will however, have the opportunity to make more money if they reach the top of their pay range.
All employees will be eligible for merit pay raises. The employee salary line item in the budget was bumped up 3 percent to pay for those raises.
New hires will also start at a higher salary.
The police department has budgeted $9,000 to pay for five new police body cameras for next year.
The proposed budget is likely to be passed when the vote arises in July.
To view the budget
The recommended budget is available at http://bit.ly/1KH9WUP and is available at the Southeast Regional Library.