Mebane budget approved – minus sidewalk neighbors didn’t want

Linda Wright thanks mayor Ed Hooks for leaving her section of South Fourth Street out of the city's plans for additional sidewalks. Neighbors there don't want to give up their front yards for a sidewalk she told the council.

Mebane city council’s consideration of the next fiscal year budget drew little comment or controversy, except from the spokeswoman of one section of South Fourth Street who said neighbors there didn’t want a sidewalk put in as planned in the city manager’s original proposed budget.

Linda Wright said the “close-knit” group of neighbors found a “disturbing surprise” in the manager’s budget when they learned that their street was scheduled for a sidewalk.

With smaller yards, Wright explained that a sidewalk would reduce front yards and also effectively restrict parking.

Even before Wright spoke up Monday night, however, city manager Chris Rollins had conceded to take out the proposed sidewalk along Fourth Street and reallocate the money for a different sidewalk project to be determined.  Rollins said he had originally been told that there was widespread support for a sidewalk in the neighborhood, but later found out “just the opposite” to be the case.

Mayor Ed Hooks noted that the city council is interested in putting sidewalks in where they’re wanted.  “If the neighbors don’t want it, let us know,” he said.

Mebane’s new budget proposes to spend $25,445,340, which includes funding for 10 new employees, including four new police officers and one police investigator, plus eight patrol cars – three replacements and five new ones for the new employees.

The manager is keeping the property tax rate at 47 cents per $100 valuation.  The main impact citizens will see and feel will be in water and sewer rates, both of which are being hiked 10 percent.

Mebane’s tax base is now roughly $2.6 billion – $2,606,317,598, to be exact, according to the city manager.

Rollins reminded the council that had all of the requests made by city department heads been included, the budget would have been over $30 million, which would have required a 6.2-cent property tax increase.

The decision to adopt the city manager’s proposed budget, minus the sidewalk, was agreed to on a unanimous 5-0 vote by Mebane’s city council.