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Cornelius News

Cornelius capital plan: Will a tax hike be needed?

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March 29. By Dave Vieser. In addition to a decision on whether to spend millions of dollars burying utility lines along West Catawba Avenue, Cornelius commissioners will also soon have to decide whether property taxes must be raised to help fund an ambitious capital improvement plan. A total of some $30 million in projects has been identified by the town through 2020.

A one cent tax increase, already under consideration for burying the utilities along West Catawba Avenue, would generate about $520,000 annually, so it is unclear if a penny would be enough to cover both utilities and capital projects. The penny increase, which would raise the town’s tax rate from 24 to 25 cents for each $100 of property value, would cost taxpayers about $25 a year on a median priced Cornelius home of $250,000.

While the town can borrow to cover some of the costs, many projects will need to be paid on a “cash” basis, meaning the money must come from the town’s fund balance, which is like a savings account in the bank. Jackie Huffman, finance director, says that fund totaled $15.9 million as of last June, so it’s clear that there wouldn’t be enough money to cover both the capital projects and burying utility lines.

Town commissioners had a lengthy discussion about the capital plan at a budget planning session, and it is sure to be a major part of their discussions once the 2017 FY budget is released in May.

The capital project costs listed for 2017 are as follows:

  • Public Works Facility: $1.35 million: The current one on Starcreek Drive, off Bailey Road, will be replaced by a new building across the street.
  • Road resurfacing: $700,000: Ongoing program to resurface up to 4 miles annually.
  • DDI Aesthetic Improvements: $696,666: Includes masonry abutments and landscaping.
  • ADA Compliance: $410,000: construct handicap accessible routes for┬ápark facilities in Bailey Road Park, Legion Park and Smithville Park.
  • Bailey Road Park major renovations: $255,000: includes updating soccer field, basketball and tennis courts.
  • Vehicle Replacement Program: $231,000: Replace five aging police cars.
  • Northcross Drive extension: $100,000: when completed, will extend Northcross Dr. from the existing terminus at the Stratford Forest subdivision to Eagle Ridge Way Lane at Westmoreland Rd.
  • Highway 21/Catawba Ave intersection improvements: $100,000: when completed a new two lane roundabout will replace current congested intersection.
  • Public Works Equipment: $80,000: towards replacing several aging trucks.
  • Video Surveillance Program: $65,000: upgrade existing equipment.
  • Parks vehicles: $55,000: towards replacing Maintenance truck, trailer and Utility vehicles.
  • Computer Replacement Program: $50,000: ongoing replacement of equipment over three years old.
  • Firefighter Bailout and Safety System: $49,000: improve safety features for firefighters.
  • Highway 21 roundabout utility burial: $40,000:
  • EMT Equipment for Boat/Fire Trucks: $20,000: replace various equipment on Boat 4 and several fire trucks

2018:

  • I-77 Noise walls: $493,000
  • Sidewalk replacements: $400,000
  • South Bailey Road Greenway Phase II: $300,000
  • Stream Restoration: Willow Pond and Coachmans Wood: $30,000

2019:

  • Community/Arts Center: $4 million
  • West Catawba Phase II widening: local fund contribution: $1.2 million
  • Torrence Chapel/West Catawba Intersection Improvements: $1 million
  • Smithville Park to JV Washam School Greenway: $560,000
  • Stratford Forest Greenway: $500,000
  • Nantz Road Connect Greenway: $360,000
  • Jetton Neighborhood Park renovations: $325,000
  • Legion Park renovations: $200,000
  • Emergency Traffic Signal for fire department: 30,000

2020:

  • Highway 21 Widening Aesthetics: $1.34 million
  • Live Work Unit Streetscape: $1 million
  • S Bailey Rd Greenway land acquisition: $750,000
  • Engine 3 replacement for fire department: $625,000
  • Caldwell Station Creek Greenway: $250,000