Elected officials in the three towns in southern Mecklenburg County recently approved budgets for the 2016-17 fiscal year. Those budgets will go into effect July 1.
Following is a summary, by town, of the 2016-2017 budgets:
The town tax rate remains the same at 34 cents per $100 valuation to fund the $20.5 million budget, a $30,000 increase over 2015-2016.
Highlights include $452,250 for capital needs, $298,000 to replace eight police vehicles, $116,000 in debt service payments for the Levine Senior Center and a 3 percent performance-based salary pool for town employees.
Most Matthews residents will see an increase in their storm water fees bringing in an additional $200,000 in annual revenue to be allocated to the Town’s storm water division.
Matthews town manager Hazen Blodgett says department heads and commissioners relied on the guidance of the town’s strategic plan when crafting the new budget.
“I’m very proud of the hard work our department heads and staff have put in to creating a strong budget that doesn’t relax our high level of service to the citizens of Matthews. The town is fortunate to be able to develop a fiscally responsible plan that does not require a tax increase,” said Blodgett.
Mint Hill’s tax rate will remain unchanged at 27 cents per $100 valuation for 2016-2017. Though the $12.7 million budget is about $1.5 million higher than last year, Mint Hill town manager Brian Welch says much of that money will likely be returned to the town through sidewalk grants if awarded.
Budget breakdown includes $4 million for police (31 percent of budget), $2.2 million for fire protection (17 percent of budget), $2.1 million for solid waste services (17 percent of budget), $1.2 million for streets (10 percent of budget), $547.720 for emergency medical services (4 percent of budget) and $205,537 for park and recreation (2 percent of budget).
Welch says that even though this year’s budget is larger than last year’s, the growth in the residential and business tax base has enabled the town to keep the tax rate one of the lowest in the state for a town its size.
Town manager Haynes Brigman says while the town tax rate will remain at 35 cents per $100 valuation, the town is still struggling to make up for the elimination of the business privilege license tax by the general assembly in 2015. The 2016-2017 general fund budget falls from $13.7 to $11.1 million, a 19 percent decrease from 2015-2106.
Council members raised the tax rate 3 cents last year, but were only able to recoup 60 percent of the $700,00 that the license tax brought in. Each penny in property tax equates to $150,000 a year.
“We raised our tax rate in the 2015-2016 budget to help recoup that lost revenue, but still haven’t recouped it all,” said Brigman.
Because of that funding gap, Brigman says council members put many planned capital projects on hold including a number of replacement police cruisers, a new ladder truck for the fire department and a new town hall.
Brigman says the town will be faced with some difficult decisions over the next few years until the funding gap is closed or replaced.
Melinda Johnston is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.