you're reading...

Cornelius News

Town manager’s proposed $28 million budget calls for penny tax increase

Photo by Jason Benavides

May 3. By Dave Vieser. The proposed $28.35 million municipal budget unveiled Monday evening by Cornelius Town Manager Andrew Grant contains a one cent increase in the town tax rate, which would cost a family with a home valued at $450,000 an additional $45 a year. If adopted by the Town Board, the tax rate would increase to 0.232 per $100 tax value and would be the first town property tax increase in Cornelius since 2018.

However, initial reaction from the Town Board on the spending plan, which represents an increase of almost 8 percent from the current $26 million budget, was mixed. Commissioners Michael Osborne and Todd Sansbury leaned towards accepting the increase though they both wanted more input from residents and taxpayers; Commissioners Dave Gilroy and Denis Bilodeau indicated they were against a tax increase at this time, and Commissioner Colin Furcht, who had campaigned against a tax increase, said he now needed more input to make his decision.

An understatement?

“I foresee a robust discussion ahead of us,” Furcht said.

One of the more controversial elements of the new budget was the $28.35 million bottom line. While that’s correct, the town will actually spend over $33 million in fiscal year 2023 under the proposed budget—thanks to one-time ARPA funding.

“An additional $4.8 million of American Rescue plan funds are being utilized to supplant Public Safety salaries in order to free up the Town’s funds so they can be utilized for other vital services,” said Grant.

Gilroy felt that the $33 million figure was what real spending would be under the budget, not $28.35 million. However, Mayor Woody Washam, who only votes if there is a tie, disagreed with Gilroy.


“The actual budget is not $33 million, it is $28 million. The American Rescue Plan funds are a one-time ‘golden egg’ from the federal government. I guess we will just agree to disagree,” Washam, a long-time banker, said.

To view the $28 million budget, click here.


Town taxes account for approximately 25-30 percent of a typical property tax bill, funding vital services provided by the town, including police, fire, parks/recreation, public works, and planning.

The remainder of a homeowner’s tax bill are county taxes which help fund other important services, including public schools, the county assessors department, fire marshal, health department and social services.

Personnel costs

The proposed budget includes a 3.5 percent merit pool for salary increases plus another 2.5 percent cost of living increase. About 75 percent of the town’s expenses are driven by costs in public safety areas such as the police, fire and telecommunication 911 departments.

Personnel expenses have risen in these areas in order to retain employees as well as transitioning the fire department to a full time operation.

Public hearing

A public hearing on the proposed budget will be held on Monday May 16, at Town Hall and will likely be continued to June 6.

Pursuant to state law, the town must adopt a new budget by July 1. It could be adopted earlier, during the scheduled town board meetings on June 6 or June 20.