Town leaders will likely focus on rebuilding Wake Forest’s savings in the next year as the town continues to recover from the recession.
The town’s Board of Commissioners got its first glimpse Tuesday at a proposed $59 million budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.
The budget plan focuses on rebuilding the fund balance, or savings, and balances expenditures with anticipated debt from a parks bond, said Aileen Staples, Wake Forest’s financial director.
The proposed budget doesn’t add any new staff positions. Wake Forest has added positions every year since the recession, Staples said.
“It’s a conservative approach,” she said. “We’re kind of getting our house together.”
Last fall, Wake Forest voters approved a $25 million bond referendum for parks and recreation. The town issued $5 million of the bond this year.
Town officials told residents that the bond could lead to a property tax hike, but Staples said the first issuance seemed too early to implement an increase.
Although the budget doesn’t call for new positions, town staff proposed some changes to employee pay and benefits.
Under the plan, town employees would continue to receive merit pay. Also, the town would increase health care premiums by 7 percent, making it cheaper for employees who use the town’s health care program.
The proposed budget sets aside $3.5 million for capital projects. The current fiscal year’s budget included $3.3 million in capital projects.
In the coming year, the plan calls for just more than $475,000 in capital projects for parks and recreation. Most of that money would go toward matching a Wake County grant to build a water feature at Taylor Street Park.
The police department would get nearly $507,000 from the capital budget, mostly for 12 new vehicles.
Property tax and electricity rates would not change.
The town plans to re-evaluate electricity rates following the anticipated sale of power infrastructure between the North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency and Duke Energy, which should be finalized in June.
A public hearing on the budget is set for May 19 and the Board of Commissioners will meet June 4 for a special budget workshop.
The board will adopt a final budget some time in June.
Fourth of July celebration
Under a proposed budget for Wake Forest, the town would give $11,240 to a committee of volunteers for the annual Fourth of July celebration.
The money would cover the cost of police and security at the event. Committee members had said paying for a police presence would be too expensive for the two-day festival.
Although the proposed budget includes money for the event, it’s not guaranteed in future years. Every year, outside agencies must submit an application to the town for consideration for funding.
Former Town Manager Mark Williams suggested the town should stay out of the planning process of the Fourth of July event and instead offer ex-officio members to help out.
The proposed budget also allots $98,500 for the Chamber of Commerce and $4,000 for Resources for Seniors. Four other outside groups requested a total of $21,000, but the budget plan would not fund them.
“The town cannot and should not be expected to fund every outside group request, no matter how worthwhile their mission is,” Williams wrote in a budget summary.
Staff Writer Mechelle Hankerson