By CHRISTINA RITCHIE ROGERS
The Davidson Town Board voted 3-2 Tuesday night to approve a $9 million budget for 2011-2012 and to set the tax rate at 35 cents per $100 of assessed value, which is 1.5 cents lower than this year, and 0.9 cents lower than what the town manager had proposed.
“I do regret that I haven’t been able to put in front of you a budget that will get unanimous approval,” Town Manager Leamon Brice said.
He said the main goal for this year’s budget is to maintain the town’s assets, rather than adding a bunch of new ones. The budget remains little changed from the initial draft, though $50,000 for sidewalk construction – an item which had been removed – was added back in.
The new budget takes effect July 1, and the new tax rate would be reflected in next year’s property tax bills from Mecklenburg County. The County Commission on June 7 approved the county’s 2011-12 budget, which lowered the county property tax rate by 2 cents, to 81.66. So altogether, Davidson property owners in the coming year will pay a tax of $1.1666 per $100 of assessed value.
Two other notable changes are:
- After negotiations, the solid waste fee remains level with the current year. In May, town officials had discussed possibly trimming the fee, which was first introduced last year.
- The budget reduces storm water fees, which are based on the amount of impervious surface per parcel. The change means property owners get between $30 and $42 in annual savings, Finance Director Eric Hardy said.
Commissioner Connie Wessner commended Mr. Brice for “holding the line” on the storm water and solid waste fees, “fees that could have easily increased,” she said, and made a motion to accept the manager’s proposed budget as-written.
But the motion failed 2-3, with Commissioners Laurie Venzon, Tim Dreffer and Brian Jenest opposed.
At the May 24 meeting, those three board members argued for some kind of reduction in the tax rate, following the county’s recent revaluation, while Commissioners Margo Williams and Connie Wessner wanted to keep the tax rate where it stood.
Since last month’s board meeting, the latest revaluation numbers from the county show a larger than previously reported increase in property values – and tax revenues, Mr. Hardy said. The total increase in property values rose from a previous estimate of about $1.6 billion to about $1.63 billion – which changed the revenue neutral tax rate from 33.1 cents per $100 of assessed value to 32.1 cents per $100 of assessed value.
After the vote on the manager’s proposed budget failed, Commissioner Jenest made a motion to reduce the proposed tax rate to 35 cents per $100 of assessed value, which would require using an additional $170,000 from the town fund balance – or savings.
He also moved to designate this year’s entire fund balance appropriation of $551,145 for paying a portion of the town’s subsidy to MI-Connection. [The cable system, which Davidson owns with the town of Mooresville, is the biggest drag on the budget again this year. To cover losses at the cable network, the towns have been asked to provide subsidies totaling $5.88 million this coming year. Davidson's share is $1.94 million. (See “MI-Connection 2012 budget requires $5.88 million from towns.”)]
“I’m uncomfortable shifting ongoing expenses to support that tax rate,” Commissioner Wessner said.
But Commissioner Dreffer, who supported the motion, said he sees the MI-Connection payment as a “one-time expense,” not an ongoing one.
Commissioners Venzon, Dreffer and Jenest voted in favor of Jenest’s motion, and the board approved the budget 3-2, with Commissioners Wessner and Margo Williams opposed.
ALSO AT THE MEETING TUESDAY:
- Board members voted unanimously in favor of a resolution against Senate Bill 731, which would restrict the authority of local governments to adopt and enforce design controls for many single-family homes. The towns of Cornelius and Huntersville have already voted on similar resolutions.
- Board members voted unanimously in favor of a resolution against Senate Bill 508, which would require that the towns of Davidson, Cornelius and Huntersville fund Visit Lake Norman, the local tourism promotion group, at a certain level. The board still intends to support Visit Lake Norman, but would prefer to do so through an interlocal agreement and not through state-mandated legislation.
- The Mayor and Commissioners honored Town Attorney Richard Kline, who has worked for the town for 35 years. They commended him for “achieving municipal superhero status” while still “maintaining a fair golf game.”
June 14, 2011, presentation by finance director Eric Hardy on the 2011-12 budget (PDF).
Resolution amending the solid waste fee (PDF).