Union County Weekly
STALLINGS – The Stallings Town Council held a special meeting on June 1 to discuss proposed budget items for the 2015-16 fiscal year.
Though the town will lose $60,000 in levied taxes from the elimination of the privilege license tax, citizens will not bear the brunt of the loss with a property tax increase; it will remain the same as last year at 21.5 cents per $100 valuation.
Stormwater fees also will remain the same, which is $46 for residential and $33 per equivalent residential unit for non-residential properties.
Citizens will reap the benefits from infrastructural improvements and the hiring of additional town staff, including an additional patrol officer, engineer technician and program coordinator for Stallings Parks and Recreation Department.
The budget will allocate $1,160,750 to infrastructure projects from July 2015 to June 2016. The money will go toward roads, sidewalks, stormwater projects and maintenance and a capital outlay project to improve the Pleasant Plains and Potter roads intersection.
The councilmembers’ concern for the town’s infrastructure was reflected in the budget.
“Roads need to be resurfaced, and we need to start working on them,” Mayor Pro Tem Walt Kline said. “I’d like to see more money go to roads.”
The council budgeted $500,000 to resurface 2.5 miles of streets that failed to meet an engineering assessment completed by town engineer Chris Easterly this year. Easterly assessed 44 miles of streets owned by the town and found 14 road segments to have crumbling asphalt and/or be deteriorated to the point where it could become a safety hazard for drivers.
Some examples of the worst roads that will be repaired this year include: Macaroom Court in Shannamara, Lawing Court in Fairfield Plantation and Derbyshire Lane in Buckingham Subdivision.
Easterly believes the roads have deteriorated due to age, as some of the roads are more than 15 years old.
Councilmembers also decided to allocate $80,000 for sidewalks in the upcoming budget. A large portion of the sidewalks budget, $40,000, will go toward Phase II of the sidewalk project along Lawyers Road from Emerald Lake Drive to Buckingham. Neighborhoods such as Callonwood and Emerald Lake will see sidewalk repairs.
The town also will begin a capital outlay project this year that will improve the intersection at Pleasant Plains and Potter roads. This project will cost $2.5 million upfront; however, North Carolina Department of Transportation will reimburse the town $2.1 million for its financial obligations to the project.
The town will end up paying $400,000, but only $200,000 will be allocated to the project this year, since the project will break ground in June 2016.
Easterly said the changes residents will see include the addition of two left-turn lanes traveling east bound on both roads, a total of one-half mile of sidewalks going from the intersection traveling along Potter Road to the Burger King, and from the intersection traveling along Pleasant Plains to Grace Academy. He also said capital improvement money was allocated in the budget for streetscape beautification, such as adding lighting and trees.
Town Manager Kevin Wood confirmed $1.1 million was invested in infrastructure in this year’s 2014-15 budget, which accounts for the ongoing road resurfacing and stormwater improvements.
Dunn assured residents would be happy to hear how the council was being good stewards with its money.
“By the end of the year, over $2 million will have been invested in infrastructure,” he said. “Citizens need to know that we are taking care of infrastructure; we are using their money wisely.”
The town also should expect to see future savings from the council’s decision to budget $38,000 for a full-time engineer technician. Kirk Medlin, town finance officer, said the council has never considered hiring an engineer technician before; however, after adding Easterly’s job as town engineer last year, they’ve seen the benefits of having expert knowledge on staff.
The engineer technician will work under Easterly and oversee all town construction projects, as well as provide additional capabilities the town wasn’t able to provide before, such as permit inspections, code enforcement and some maintenance support.
Currently, the town contracts a consultant who oversees construction projects, but bringing in a salaried employee will save the town approximately $30,000 per year and increase the number of available work hours.
Town council also agreed to fund the hiring of a program director for Parks and Recreation. This part-time, 30-hours-per-week position will cost $21,800 and will provide Parks and Recreation Director Dena Sabinske with assistance in developing and planning town events, such as Stallings Fest and the Night at the Park series.
Stallings Police Department expects to receive extra support, as the town agreed to assign $34,000 to hire an additional patrol officer.
Chief M.E. Plyler, Jr. said the department currently runs a four-person squad to cover every shift, totaling 16 full-time patrol officers. The chief plans to use these funds to hire a community officer, who will be the community liaison between the police department and residents, homeowner’s associations, neighborhood watch groups and schools.
“He or she will be the face of the community,” he said.
Plyler also commented having an additional officer will alleviate the stress other officers endure when coworkers need to take time off from work, as well as provide backup during accidents.
“It’s been four years since the town has had a community patrol officer,” he said. “It will be valuable to the police department and the community.”
Plyler plans to pre-screen applications for the position immediately and will be ready to fiill the position as soon the council votes on the budget. Council will vote on the 2015-16 fiscal year budget on June 22, a Monday.
Visit http://www.stallingsnc.org/334/Budget-Message-2015-2016 to view the budget.