Mebane city officials unveiled the city’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year Monday night, a $38.2 million budget.
Highlights of the city manager’s proposed budget, which was detailed to the city council by finance officer Daphna Schwartz: no property tax increase beyond the current 47¢ per $100 valuation; 10 more city employees added onto the city payroll, bringing the total number to about 167; a second series of raises for city employees, all of whom got a first round of raises earlier this year; and 6 percent higher water and sewer rates.
As such, the budget expenditures are 12.9 percent higher than the original budget adopted a year ago; it is up 1.7 percent from the budget which the council has amended over the past year to add special projects.
Particularly noticeable are higher assumed sales tax revenues projected for the upcoming fiscal years. Local governments have varied with each other over the years in projecting what level of sales tax increases are forecast.
Mebane’s numbers assume an increase of 29.8 percent in sales tax revenue over the next fiscal year.
Among the largest increases are in the fire department. A new fire truck will cost about $650,000 and six new firefighters will add another $300,000 in increased spending for the department, for a total increase of about $950,555, according to the proposed budget.
Police expenses are also up significantly. The combination of mid-year additions in additional personnel plus increased salaries agreed to earlier this year net to a $332,884 increase in that department.
Indeed, the budget notes that about 36 percent of the total general fund budget (thus not including water and sewer expenditures) goes for “public safety,” which Rollins and Schwartz explained are police and fire department.
Other big-ticket items are a new leaf truck ($320,000); a new garbage truck ($210,000); and four new police cars ($260,006); and three new pickup trucks ($120,000).
Also in the budget is $900,000 for the so-called Holt Street Greenway project, although its length is now about half of the original plan, which was expected (several years ago) to total no more than $1 million for the whole project.
And another $253,085 is budgeted for additional health insurance costs.
The new personnel tally to ten additional positions (eight within the general fund budget and another two in the water/sewer budget); the new general fund positions will cost $545,935; another $107,960 will be spent to hire two new employees in the utility department.
The new 3 percent cost-of-living raises will cost over $400,000 during the 2022-2023 budget year; raises already granted earlier this year (another $400,000 for the first 3 percent cost-of-living raises, plus another $263,487 in raises for 61 percent of the city’s employees), for more than $1 million in increased salaries for existing employees, plus an additional $653,895 for 10 new ones ($545,935 in the general fund for eight, and $107,960 financed through the water and sewer fund for two more).
The city council will hold a public hearing on its proposed budget during the next monthly meeting, on June 6, at which time the council may decide to vote to adopt or amend its fiscal spending plans for the next year.
Read the newspaper’s editorial page opinion on the spending and priorities of Mebane’s: https://alamancenews.com/mebane-prioritizing-city-bureaucrats-over-taxpayers-as-usual/