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Cornelius News

 Proposed county budget freezes taxes. Will Cornelius follow suit?

May 4. Dave Vieser. The proposed 2021 Mecklenburg County Budget comprising  $1.9-billion would maintain the current tax rate of 61.69 cents/$100 tax value. County taxes represent approximately 3/4 of a typical Cornelius homeowner tax bill.

Although the recommended budget is an increase of $5.6 million, or .3 percent, over the current operating budget, the county was able to hold taxes by dipping into its reserves for $52 million.

Whether Cornelius town officials will follow the same pattern, in the midst of the pandemic, remains to be seen, but so far they have said a tax increase is unlikely.

“On Monday evening May 4, we will continue to have further budget discussions with our commissioners and staff at our virtual town meeting” said Town Manager Andrew Grant. “As of now, I plan to present the Manager’s Recommended Budget on June 1st.”

Earlier in the town’ budget review process, there had been some speculation that town taxes might need to be increased next year. However, with the onset of the pandemic, and its negative economic impact, the town could choose to follow the county’s lead and use some of its reserves, thereby holding the line on taxes, if needed.

Using reserves to freeze tax rates is not always recommended by fiscal experts and bond rating agencies but these are not normal times.

The town currently has a total fund balance is $21.6 million, of which $19.8 million is available, according to Finance Director Julie Niswonger.

The current fiscal year General Fund Budget totals $24.22 million, an increase of $1.28 million or 5 percent from FY 2019. The increase was due primarily to funding of certain capital projects such as the Town’s cost share of NCDOT road projects.

The recommended county budget not only freezes taxes but also includes some $250 million in investments for critical services for the Public Health Department and the Department of Social Services. The county budget funds some big ticket items which impact on Cornelius residents such as CMS public schools, Charlotte Water, and the county library system.

Public hearing

There will be a virtual public hearing on the proposed county budget at 6 pm May 13. The date(s) for town public hearings will be announced later in the month.

Both town and county budgets must by state law be adopted no later than June 30.