Saturday, August 13, 2022

114 West Elm Street
Graham, NC 27253
Ph: 336.228.7851

Mebane budget adopted; property taxes level, but water & sewer rates to climb 6%

Mebane city council members unanimously adopted the budget initially proposed in May by city manager Chris Rollins.

Highlights of the budget, as proposed and adopted: 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 last year’s budget; it is up 1.7 percent from the budget which the council has amended over the past year to add special projects.

Like most other local municipalities, the budget has an optimistic calculation for sales tax receipts over the next fiscal year. Mebane’s numbers assume an increase of 29.8 percent in sales tax revenue over the next fiscal year.

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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 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 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,” i.e., the police and fire departments.

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 total 10 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), total 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).

No one other than Rollins spoke during a 15-minute public hearing on the budget. The vote to adopt the budget was unanimous, 5-0.

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