STALLINGS — As the town council gets closer to adopting its budget for 2012-13, one thing is clear: there will be no water and sewer rate increase next year.
The council voted Monday, June 11, against a water and sewer rate hike to give residents more time to prepare for such a hike and for town staff to do further research into what rate increase is appropriate in the future.
Mayor Lynda Paxton said the council did, however, give town staff permission to go ahead with a full inventory of the Stallings’ stormwater system.
“But we’re doing that from the current fund balance of the stormwater fund,” Paxton explained.
She said the inventory should cost around $200,000 and there is about $300,000 currently in the town’s stormwater fund. The existing water and sewer rates ($21.24 per year for small residential properties less than 2,000 square feet, $25.44 per year for residential properties at or more than 2,000 square feet and $16.20 per equivalent residential unit for non-residential properties) should generate another $240,000 for next year to put back in the fund.
“So we didn’t feel like it was a wise move to increase the rates at this juncture,” Paxton said.
Additionally, council approved making a current part-time parks and rec position full time and approved the addition of a second part-time maintenance position.
“The manager reminded council we are moving ahead with having something built in Blair Mill Park and we will be going from two bathrooms to six, and from 6 acres to 20, and to maintain the parks that are open seven days a week, 365 days a year, it’s unrealistic it could be maintained by existing staff with just one part-time person,” Paxton explained.
The council also discussed the possibility of creating a volunteer program similar to one in Rock Hill, S.C., which has 40 or more parks, to help with cleanup, public safety and other items, and may move forward with a program in the near future.
Council also moved $5,000 set aside for an online park facilities registration program and put it back toward the Stallings Fest event.
“We’d slashed that line item down pretty significantly and the parks committee was complaining they couldn’t put on the kind of event they wanted with no money,” Paxton said. “They’re recommending we do fewer events and better quality events, and just promote the two or three we do. Stallings Fest has always been our biggest one.”
Paxton said council also was considering switching to a new recording system for its meetings, but will hold off on that for another year as more research is done into similar systems that maintain complete access for the public.
Councilman Wyatt Dunn was absent from the meeting, but had proposed using money that would be raised this year from a golf fundraiser to help pay for teacher assistant positions at Stalling area schools. Because he was absent, the item wasn’t brought up for discussion.
He’d also asked the budget for the town attorney be cut, but that item also was not discussed.
Pending any further changes at the June 25 meeting, Paxton said the council is prepared to adopt the budget at its next meeting.
“I feel pretty good about this budget,” she said. “Could we have saved more money? Possibly, but we haven’t done anything extravagant and there’s no tax increase and no storm water fee increase.”
The town’s total proposed budget for 2012-13 is $5.3 million, half a million less than 2011-12.
Included in that budget is $1.9 million for the police department, $884,300 for general government, $1.1 million for transportation, $825,000 for sanitation, $276,110 for economic and physical development and $224,520 for parks and recreation.
The general government budget includes a 3 percent cost of living increase for all town employees, which the council approved 3-2 during a meeting in May.
The police budget includes two new Dodge Chargers, which will cost about $28,000 total for the car, equipment and graphics.
The proposed budget also includes funding for intersection improvements and streetscapes, new sidewalks and sidewalk repairs, which in total add up to about $618,000, some of which will be paid by the N.C. Department of Transportation.
Even with some increases in spending this year, Town Manager Brian Matthews has proposed the town maintain its tax rate at 21.5 cents per $100 of assessed property value, which will generate $3.1 million in revenue.
The council’s next meeting is June 25 at 7 p.m. in town hall.
For more information, visit www.stallingsnc.org.