Lake Norman & Mooresville

Towns prepare budgets

Officials from the Lake Norman communities will face some difficult decisions in the next few weeks as they finalize next year's budget.

In addition to preparing budgets during less-than-ideal economic times, officials need to decide how the recent county-wide home revaluation will affect their tax rates.

They may decide to maintain current rates or create revenue-neutral budgets which take into account the changes in property values.

Here are some of the highlights from proposed budgets for each Lake Norman community, as well as important budget dates in the next few weeks.

Huntersville

Despite the economic climate, Town Manager Greg Ferguson emphasized long-term projects - such as a new town police station - in his recommended $43 million budget for fiscal year 2012.

Here are some of the highlights from his budget:

Reduce the tax rate to 0.285;

Set aside capital reserve funds for the $18 million new police station;

Add two positions in the public works department;

Maintain solid waste fee of $54;

Increase salaries by 3 percent;

Replace 10 police cruisers and freeze officer hiring. Ferguson recommends adding a half-time victim advocate;

Keep current staff levels in several town departments, including finance and administration, planning and parks and recreation;

Increase funding for fire and rescue organizations because of new costs of staffing Fire Station 3.

At a recent work session, town commissioners discussed cutting some of Ferguson's recommendations, including the part-time position in the police department as well as new positions for public works.

Residents weighed in on the recommended budget at a public hearing Monday night.

The board may decide to hold another work session between now and June, said Ferguson.

Commissioners are expected to adopt next year's budget at their June 6 meeting.

Cornelius

Cornelius Town Manager Anthony Roberts has not finalized his recommended budget for next year.

Town commissioners attended a budget workshop Monday night, and Roberts is expected to present his recommended budget to commissioners at their May 23 meeting, which the public is welcome to attend. The budget will be between $17 and $17.5 million.

There will be a public hearing on the recommended budget on June 6, although town staff has not set a time yet.

Commissioners may adopt the budget as early as June 6, said town finance director Jackie Huffman.

Davidson

Town Finance Director Eric Hardy presented the recommended budget for next year at town commissioners' April 22 work session.

Town officials heard from residents about the proposed $8.9 million budget at their May 10 meeting and are expected to finalize the budget within the next couple of weeks.

Here are some of the proposals:

Reduce employment health insurance by $64,455 to $359,930;

Increase workers compensation premium by $34,140 to $102,640;

Increase funds to Visit Lake Norman by $10,050, to $63,530. Visit Lake Norman is paid for by the hotel, motel and prepared food tax revenue;

Decrease funds to MI-Connection by about $100,000 to $1.9 million;

Spend $86,360 for police cruiser replacements;

Spend $80,000 on parking study recommendations, including way-finding signs and parking striping;

Spend $12,190 to resume public arts funding;

Spend $10,000 for volunteer firefighter incentives;

Spend $20,000 on Davidson IB property study.

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