WAXHAW – Waxhaw’s town manager has recommended the town keep its 34-cent tax rate, but warned next year a tax increase may be necessary.
For several years, the town has maintained a property tax rate of 34-cents per $100 of assessed property value. But town manager Mike McLaurin said, “With the demands on us, I’m not sure how we’ll be able to hold it.”
He said as the town is trying to build its undesignated fund balance to build new facilities, it will need to raise the tax rate in order to have enough cash on-hand for purchases to save on lease payments.
“The town has developed a very aggressive agenda including better community planning, parks and recreation and facilities,” he said. “We have done a good job in catching up in a variety of areas and for building up the fund balance and this strategy will help us better weather the challenges ahead.”
And with a steady 2.4-percent increase in ad valorem taxes each year, the town is in good financial standing.
Its ad valorem tax base is up to $1.3 million for 2012-13 from $1.24 million in 2010-11. It was $1.28 million in 2011-12.
“We’re still staying pretty active down here,” McLaurin said about the steady increase in taxes.
McLaurin said a second major source of revenue for the town is the state sales tax, which is projected to come in at $850,000 for the next fiscal year.
With a total proposed budget of $5.9 million, McLaurin is recommending a budget of $1.34 million for the town’s administration department, which includes the manager’s office, town council, clerk, human resources, tax collection, events and information technology.
One of the things McLaurin will pitch to the council is the implementation of a salary study to give town employees a 3-percent cost of living increase.
McLaurin said no funds have been allocated yet for the parks and recreation department, but that could change.
“We’re just looking at the master plan and we haven’t put money aside because we weren’t sure about the direction from the board. And if I hired a parks and rec person now I don’t have a place to put them anyway,” he said referencing the lack of space in the existing town hall.
For the police department, McLaurin is recommending a budget of $1.6 million – much of which will go toward the purchase of new police vehicles and the required equipment as well as some maintenance to the department’s building.
He said he’s also going to work with the council on implementing an animal-licensing program.
And for the planning and community development budget, McLaurin is recommending $865,617 for things like small area planning, a rewrite of the town’s comprehensive plan, a sign study and updating the town’s aerial photography, which alone could cost about $200,000.
“One thing we pride ourselves is on good quality data so we can make good decisions,” McLaurin said about that budget item.
For town public services, he’s recommended a budget of $1.9 million for things like cemetery improvements, replacing the retaining wall downtown, developing a community arts plan through beautification and replacing an aging bucket truck.
“As I have mentioned in prior years, I truly believe our future is bright,” McLaurin wrote in his presentation to the council. “We have many things other communities wish they had including an active downtown, volunteers, motivated town and engaged citizens. Over the past several years we have made much progress by working together. As we move up to the next level it will be important we approach our mission in a strategic manner so we can build a firm foundation for the next generation.”
McLaurin will present the budget to the town during their next regular meeting Tuesday, June 5, at 6:30 p.m. at the Museum of the Waxhaws, 8215 Waxhaw Hwy.