Stancil delivers budget proposal

May. 13, 2013 @ 11:19 PM

Town Manager Roger Stancil on Monday recommended a $91.1 million budget for fiscal year 2013-14 that would require a two cent tax increase, the first proposed for the town in several years.

Stancil said the one penny of the tax increase would be earmarked for the town’s general fund and the other for its transit fund, which has seen a decrease in state funding to the tune of $872,000.

“We obviously have an increase in cost because of fuel and personnel cost,” Stancil said.

He noted that the loss in state funding was the equivalent of more than one cent on the tax rate, which is about $728,000.

Funding the proposed budget proposal will require the town to dip into its fund balance or “rainy day” account for nearly $2 million from its fund balance.

“We think this is a pretty reasonable fund balance appropriation and we still expect our fund balance to be over the 20 percent mark after that appropriation,” Stancil said.

Under the budget proposal, town employees would receive a 2 percent pay increase, which Stancil said is important to remain competitive.

“This is an attempt to keep our salary levels competitive,” Stancil said. “It’s consistent with what surrounding communities are doing. It’s consistent with the Consumer Price Index increase.’

In addition to a loss in state funding for transit, the town faces budgetary pressures stemming from the increased cost of shipping its solid waste to Durham -- a move it was forced to make after Orange County decided to close its landfill this summer -- funding the expanded library, annual street-paving projects and resuming funding for retiree health liability.

The budget restores four of the 14 library operating hours eliminated as a cost-saving measure when the town opened the expanded library last month.

If approved by council, the number of operating hours at the library would increase from 54 to 58 at a cost of $100,000. Before the expansion project, the library operated 68 hours per week.

Stancil said the hours would not be restored immediately after the new budget is approved. He said he wants to give the new library director a chance to decide how to best use them.

The reduced hours at the library have been controversial with citizens aggressively lobbying Stancil and the council to restore them.

Mayor Pro Tem Ed Harrison wanted to know when the hours would be restored and council member Jim Ward said he would prefer starting interviews soon for the additional staff needed for increased operating hours.

 “I would like to see how the town manager could work with library director to see if we could more expeditiously put that $100,000 in action rather than waiting until June to start looking at the positions,” Ward said,

  Stancil is also proposing a $9 a year increase in the stormwater fee, which would bump it from $39 to $48 per household. The fee hasn’t been increased since 2004.

 Stancil said he doesn’t expect people to happy about the tax increase, which has become a necessary evil.

“I don’t think people like tax increases and I think that will be reflected in their reaction to it, but we’ve been throughout the whole recession without a tax increase and we just can’t keep doing that,” Stancil said. “We’d have to say no to more things if we don’t want a tax increase.”

The budget process continues May 20 with a public hearing that will be followed by a May 22 budget worksession.

The budget is expected to be adopted by the council June 10.