Clayton’s budget doesn’t raise taxes

ndunn@newsobserver.comMay 30, 2014 

Clayton residents who care about government spending might want to show up at town hall on Monday.

Residents can have their say on how the town should spend their money during a public hearing on the 2014-15 budget. The town manager and Town Council have a plan already, but nothing is set in stone.

The public hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in the council chambers at The Clayton Center, 111 E. Second St.

Town Manager Steve Biggs’ proposed $41.4 million budget does not include a property-tax hike. The rate would stay at 52.5 cents per $100 of valuation.

Electric rates would stay the same too, but water rates would rise 17 cents per 1,000 gallons of use. A typical home, which uses 5,000 gallons of water each month, would pay 85 cents more per month, or about $10 more a year, the town says. The proposed increase stems from the town passing along a similar rate hike proposed by its water supplier, Johnston County.

As Biggs hinted earlier this year, the only fees scheduled to increase are those for building permits. The new fee schedule, not yet released, comes on the heels of an analysis of fees charged by other cities and towns. In April, Biggs said the town’s building permits cost less than those charged elsewhere.

“We had expected we were on the low side,” Biggs said. “Sure enough, we found that pretty much in every category we were the lowest or equal to the lowest.”

Total salaries in the year ahead would increase from $8.9 million to $9.4 million, or about 6 percent, reflecting a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase, merit raises that start next year and several new positions.

Biggs’ budget adds a number of employees:

•  One crew leader and two property-maintenance workers to bolster the town’s property-maintenance efforts. The positions would cost the town $119,400 next year.

•  One street-maintenance worker, which Biggs said the town needs since adding significant mileage to its coverage area in recent years. The position would cost $10,512 next year.

•  One part-time library assistant and one part-time catalog librarian, which the town says it needs for the library’s extended hours and eventual independence from the county library system. The positions would cost $37,000 next year.

•  One development coordinator in the planning department who would work with developers who have questions about permitting or other town services. The position would cost $11,400 next year.

•  One project administrator for the town’s engineering division and one mechanic for water operations. The position would cost $34,300 next year.

As for capital purchases, the fire department budget includes a $278,033 down payment on a replacement rescue vehicle. The rescue vehicle would cost $591,560, according to the budget.

Other capital purchases include $284,200 in equipment for water and sewer operations, $65,500 to replace an outdated phone system at The Clayton Center and a street-lighting project on N.C. 42 East, $175,000.

Biggs expects the town to collect about $8.78 million in property taxes next fiscal year, up about 4.3 percent from this year.

The budget is online at www.townofclaytonnc.org/government/agendasminutes. Click the link that says “2014-15 Proposed Budget.”

Dunn: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104

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