STALLINGS – With only one week left to adopt a town budget before having to take drastic measures, Stallings Town Council adopted a budget of about $7 million along with the capital improvement plan and capital project ordinance for the Potter and Pleasant Plains roads intersection.
Council members Shawna Steele and Fred Weber, along with Mayor Pro Tem Reed Esarove, voted in favor of the budget during the Monday, June 24, meeting, while Paul Frost and Wyatt Dunn opposed. Harry Stokes was not present at the meeting.
No tax or fee increases are included in the adopted budget, though one council member said such hikes aren’t far off at this rate.
“You look at our expenses and in every category except one they have increased,” Frost said in opposition to the budget. “It takes a little bit of looking behind the numbers, but I would like to point out to the council members and the residents that we are going at an unsustainable rate. We will either need a reduction or a tax and fee increase in the future.”
The budget includes $2 million for the intersection improvements – $1,171,000 of which will be transferred to the newly created capital ordinance – and $68,200 for the completion of Stallings Municipal Park. Both projects are included in the CIP adopted during the meeting.
Money transferred to the capital ordinance for the project can only be used for the improvements to Potter and Pleasant Plains roads. Putting the money into a separate ordinance prevents the money from being spent on other expenses. The town is footing the bill for the project, but will later be reimbursed from the North Carolina Department of Transportation, Union County and the Mecklenburg-Union Metropolitan Planning Organization for parts of the project.
“We will be reimbursed for those expenses as we complete certain components of the project,” town manager Brian Matthews explained.
Such a partnership is a benefit to Stallings, some council members said. They hope it’s a sign of future partnerships on needed infrastructure projects.
“This starts the line for the town to receive money from multiple sources, and I know there are a lot of people from the other side of town who feel we are spending a lot of money on this side of town,” Frost said. “… This is our downtown corridor, and it’s in bad shape.”
The intersection and Stallings Municipal Park are not the only two projects included on the five-year CIP for the upcoming fiscal year. The CIP also includes $400,000 for street resurfacing throughout town, $483,500 for two sidewalk projects and $50,000 for improvements to Blair Mill Park. Various other projects also are included in the next five years, but council can make changes to the plan at any time.
“(The CIP) has finally come to us in a form of project description, the expenditures and when the projects will take place,” Mayor Lynda Paxton said. “We are not flying by the seat of our pants anymore … We have a long-range plan.”