Tag Archives: budget

We Made It to Budget Season 2014

It’s back: that time of year when the town develops a budget for the next year. And we’re seeking your input.

This Tuesday, May 20, the Board of Aldermen will hold a public hearing on the town manager’s recommended budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The budget we ultimately adopt will provide direction to the town manager and the staff in spending more than $21 million on personnel, operations, and capital purchases between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015.

You can find the manager’s recommended budget here. (Beware the large PDF file.) A few highlights include:

  • no increase in the property tax rate (for the sixth year in a row); 
  • a 2% cost-of-living increase in salaries for town employees, plus merit-based salary increases structured to bring salaries for the lowest-paid employees closer to the local housing wage (more on this item below);
  • another increase in the budget for human services grants;
  • funds for a comprehensive parking study;
  • a new solid waste truck and automated leaf loader; 
  • 5 replacement police vehicles (including systems that reduce engine idling); and
  • resurfacing of the tennis courts at Wilson park, resurfacing of the tennis and basketball courts at Anderson Park, and replacement of the basketball half-court with a full court at Baldwin Park.

As reported this week in the Chapel Hill News, the proposed merit-based salary increases are structured so that salaries for the town’s 15 lowest-paid employees—some as low as $26,500 per year—will increase more quickly than other salaries over the next few years, bringing them closer to the local housing wage. Most of the affected employees are groundskeepers, solid waste equipment operators, and other workers in the Public Works department. Bringing salaries for these employees closer to a meaningful housing wage represents an important improvement in the town’s existing living wage policy, a priority the board has expressed for the past few years.

Finally, I am advocating for a 5.45% increase (approximately $76,000) in the town’s contribution to Chapel Hill Transit. Although this change is not currently reflected in the proposed budget, it would help Chapel Hill Transit purchase 3 replacement buses and add a number of critical staff positions. Increased contributions from the three transit partners, along with the expected annual allocation of funds from the Orange County Bus and Rail Investment Plan, will bring a total of 6 replacement buses into the system, address personnel shortages, and further improve service on nights and weekends and during peak hours.

As always, your alderpersons want to hear from you. Please reach out to us individually or attend the May 20 public hearing to share your thoughts. You can reach me directly by e-mail at dseils@townofcarrboro.org, on Facebook, on Twitter, and by telephone.


Comments to the North Carolina Utilities Commission

This evening, I made the following comments to the North Carolina Utilities Commission at a hearing in Hillsborough regarding proposed Duke Energy rate increases:

“With more and more funding cuts being made at state and federal levels, North Carolina’s towns, cities, counties, and school districts must provide vital services on increasingly constrained budgets. Fashionable fiscal austerity policies in Raleigh are shifting the burden to local governments, and many have found they must raise taxes to maintain services and quality of life.

“So far, my town has been relatively fortunate. We have been able to avoid property tax increases for the past few years. But, like other municipalities, we have done this in part by postponing much needed maintenance and improvement of infrastructure and equipment.

“Another rate increase by Duke Energy will mean higher costs for local governments. A major cost for a town like Carrboro, and the single largest source of the town’s municipal carbon dioxide emissions, is street lighting. In addition to a large rate hike for residential customers, Duke Energy is proposing an increase in lighting costs, even while neglecting to make it easier for municipalities to lease high-efficiency lighting infrastructure. So another rate increase will hit Duke’s residential customers doubly hard, both directly through their power bills and indirectly through their municipal taxes.

“We also should not overlook the fact that today, about two hours ago, Orange County declared a state of emergency in response to Sunday’s catastrophic flooding that displaced dozens of our neighbors. Not surprisingly, many of those most affected by the flooding are lower-wealth residents who have limited resources and social support networks to assist them through this crisis — the same people who will be burdened by bigger electric bills. Once again, it is our local governments, along with nonprofit agencies, that will bear the costs of providing services to those in need.

“We know, unequivocally, that we can expect more of these kinds of emergencies. Global climate change is here, and the odds have changed to make extreme weather events more likely.

“Duke Energy and other electric utility providers should be giving priority to energy efficiency and conservation. Instead, we have been presented with a plan that aims to achieve the opposite.

“This is not the time to put greater pressure on North Carolina’s towns and cities. Duke Energy should be asked to tighten its belt just like everyone else. Instead, Duke is seeking yet another rate increase to pay for dirty, dangerous, and costly forms of energy production that its customers don’t need.”

Budget Season

On Tuesday, May 21, the Board of Aldermen will hold a public hearing on the town manager’s recommended budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Some highlights include:

  • no increase in the property tax rate (for the fifth consecutive year);
  • retirement of debt for the Adams Tract, the Century Center, the Martin Luther King Jr Park property, and the Old NC 86 public works property;
  • an increase in the human services grant budget; and
  • a small cost-of-living increase for town employees.

And don’t forget the purchase of a new front-loader garbage truck!

The proposed budget is available on the town’s website here and from the town clerk.

Your alderpersons want to hear from you. Reach out to us individually or attend the May 21 public hearing to share your ideas. Feel free to contact me directly or join the conversation on Facebook.