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Cornelius News

Proposed budget for FY 2025 emphasizes public safety, infrastructure

Town Manager Andrew Grant

May 8. By Dave Yochum. Town Manager Andrew Grant has proposed a new $40.6 million budget for the next fiscal year with the tax rate staying the same—17.31 cents for the local portion of property taxes.

For a home assessed at $500,000, that amounts to an annual town tax of approximately $865—which is about one third of a taxpayers bill, with the remainder being Mecklenburg County taxes.

However, based on projections of current spending and funding—largely taxes—the town’s fund balance will fall too low in four years.

The town’s finances will need a correction prior to FY 2029 to avoid violating the Town’s Fund Balance Policy—either a significant increase in revenues or significant reduction in expenses/services.

If the correction is a property tax increase, the more time that goes by the larger it will need to be, Grant said.

Employee retention

The recommended budget includes Merit/COLA raises of 5.75 percent combined, for a total of $785,757. Average Merit increases—included in the 5.75 percent—would be 3.5 percent.

The proposed budget includes:

“Projected annual operating revenue will not keep pace with bonds, installment financing debt, personnel retention/recruitment, general operations, and Fire Dept. Transition Plan. Rapid use of the fund balance (including capital reserve funds) will begin in FY 2025.”

—Andrew Grant, town manager of Cornelius

$780,000 for 115/Potts St./Davidson St. Roundabout – Design and Right of Way Match

$52 million total town current commitment to major road projects

$549,768 for six new firefighter positions, included within $916,409 for FY 2025 for the transition from part-time to full-time firefighters

$625,000 for new replacement Police vehicles

$43,000 to fully fund Elementary School Resource Officer (half year)

$500,000 Legion Park playground replacement

$150,000 (matching funds) Bailey Road Park track resurfacing

$60,000 Increase annual park maintenance/improvements

$600,000 Dana’s Branch/Magnolia Estates/Westmoreland Stream Restoration (easement
acquisition)

$135,000 Leaf vacuum machine replacement

$36,000 Backup data cyber-security improvement

$35,000 Transition financial system to a cloud-based platform

$411,000 Cain Center grant

$23,000 Ada Jenkins grant

$19,000 Bags of Hope grant

Revenues vs. expenditures

Total general fund budget revenues amount to $36,531,149, while total expenditures are $40,601,436. The plan requires utilizing the town’s fund balance for a total of $4,070,287, which includes $4,143,000 of one-time expenditures funded by restricted & dedicated funding sources, such as State Grant funds, Stormwater funds, Asset Forfeiture funds and Building Maintenance Reserve funds.

There will be a net contribution to the fund balance of $72,713.

Debt service

Total debt service is growing, from $2.7 million in FY 2020 to $3.7 million in the 2025 fiscal year, and a projected $5.4 million in FY 2028, a 145 percent increase in 10 years.

What’s next

Public hearings will be held May 20 and June 3 at Town Hall. The local budget must be adopted no later than June 30 and will go into effect July 1, 2024. One person spoke out about the town manager’s spending plan after Monday’s budget presentation. Former Commissioner Colin Furcht said the town should be careful to fund expenses in light of a “financial cliff” that occurs in several years without a tax increase

As town manager, Grant has developed and recommended budgets for the past six years. Prior to that, he was assistant town manager for 15 years, and assisted the town manager with annual budgets.

Discussion

2 Responses to “Proposed budget for FY 2025 emphasizes public safety, infrastructure”

  1. The last Town Board voted to reduce Cornelius revenue by $6,000,000 from average county towns. The current fy25 proposed budget reduces revenue another $3,7000,000. How does the town adjust to this funding support from the Town Board.
    The Employee Retention budget is one of the lowest of comparison towns. The 6 firefighter are really ONLY 2 more on duty each shift, leaving the town understaffed for many years to come. With the recent tragedy in Charlotte, why would the Town Board continue to delay the completion of equipment purchases for the police officers? Have you seen the results of what citizens who responded to the recent Budget Survey said loudly and with a lot of energy. The lowest tax revenue shows in the delayed maintenance of roads, crosswalks, sidewalks, street lights, parks, etc. It is time to be good stewards of the Town infrastructure and employees.

    Posted by Lin | May 9, 2024, 8:00 pm

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