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Cary Town Council Adopts $295 Million Budget, Keeps Property Taxes Lowest in Wake County

Property tax rate increase held to two cents to repay 2012 voter-approved bonds

Post Date:06/25/2015

CARY, NC – At their regular meeting tonight, the Cary Town Council adopted a $295 million Fiscal Year 2016 budget, a balanced work and management plan that details the projects and activities that will be undertaken over the next 12 months; the budget also lays out the positions and revenues needed to accomplish and pay for the work.  Effective July 1, Cary’s property tax rate is increasing by two cents to 37 cents per $100 valuation, a tax rate that remains the lowest in Wake County. Other fee changes include: $1/month rise in solid waste fees; an average 10-perecent increase in transportation development fees; and a 3.8-percent increase in water and sewer rates—or about $2.75 more per month for residents using 5,000 gallons of water. Funded projects of note include the construction of a seven-mile, third raw water pipeline to increase water treatment capacity and reliability; the resurfacing of over 23 miles of Town streets; and contracting for services to assist with the temporary but significant increase in permitting, line location and inspection due to the installation of gigabit fiber.

“The adopted budget continues our efforts of working hard to address the community’s needs and desires while maintaining a conservative approach to spending and saving,” said Shivar, who announced earlier this month that he will step down as Cary’s manager at the end of September after 39 years of public service.  “I feel good about what the Town will be able to accomplish with this budget and am confident that the citizens of Cary will continue to enjoy living in one of the safest, strongest and most vibrant places in the nation.”

Cary’s adopted budget differs slightly from Town Manager Ben Shivar’s recommended FY 16 budget, which he presented to the Council for their consideration and public comment on May 5, 2015.  One of the most notable changes is a decrease in the increase Shivar initially recommended for the new property tax rate. Shivar’s initial proposal included an additional one-cent property tax rate increase (for a total of three cents) to help cover $1.5 million lost as a result of the NC General Assembly’s statewide elimination of the municipal privilege license fee.  However, Shivar rescinded the one-cent increase at a work session with the Council on June 11, 2015 after updated revenue and spending projections proved the increase no longer necessary.

Also different from the proposed budget is the additional funding for an open data program, a program to provide the public with real-time access to non-confidential data collected during the course of normal municipal operations. Council made changes to the Town’s general capital budget, too, adding funding to replace the median barriers at Morrisville Parkway and Carpenter-Upchurch Road with a signalized intersection, developing a pocket park at Meeting Place; and installing a shade structure at Ritter Park.

The adopted budget funds 25.5 new or expanding positions, including an animal control officer, a police officer, three firefighters, a position to implement the open data program, and the addition of several customer service representatives in Public Works and Development Services. There will also be a new position in Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources to help improve coordination of the department’s administrative functions and allow the department to engage in a more strategic approach to programs. The total staffing is 1,255 or about 8.1 staff per 1,000 Cary residents -- slightly lower than the current year’s ratio of 8.2 per 1,000.

For the first time, this year’s budget preparation declared October—not February—as Budget Public Input Month, a move to allow more meaningful review of citizen input in the process. Over 50 comments were received, and almost all came via social media or by email. The Town Council held work sessions on May 19, June 11 and June 16 to review and discuss the budget as well as public hearings at each of its regular Council meetings on May 21 and June 11. North Carolina law requires local governments to adopt a balanced budget by June 30 since the new fiscal year starts July 1.

The Town Manager’s recommended budget as well as a list of changes is available at www.townofcary.org. The adopted budget is expected to be available online, at Town Hall and the public libraries in Cary in September.

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PRIMARY CONTACTS:
Ben Shivar, Town Manager, (919) 469-4007
Karl Knapp, Budget Director, (919) 462-3911
Deanna Boone, Deputy Public Information Officer, (919) 462-3908
Susan Moran, Public Information Director, (919) 380-4240

RELATED LINKS:
Cary Community Investment Bonds
http://www.townofcary.org/newtocary/Current_Projects/bondreferendum2012.htm
FY16 Recommended Budget
http://www.townofcary.org/Departments/townmanagersoffice/Budget/recommendedFY2016.htm
List of Associated Town Council Adopted Changes
http://www.townofcary.org/Assets/Staff+Reports/Town+Manager/Budget+Changes+List.pdf
Budget Public Input Summary
Budget Development
http://www.townofcary.org/Departments/townmanagersoffice/Budget/budgetdevelopment.htm

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