By CHUCK McSHANE
Davidson commissioners began discussing the town’s 2013-2014 budget at their monthly work session Tuesday at Town Hall, focusing on potential employee raises and new positions for the public works and planning departments. The board will continue its discussions March 12 as it crafts a spending plan for the new fiscal year.
At Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners said they will consider market adjustments to some town employees’ salaries. These adjustments would align salaries with comparable regional cities as well as Mooresville, Huntersville, and Cornelius. Finance Director Cindy Jones said the adjustments would cost about $60,000. Ms. Jones also recommended a 1.7 percent cost of living adjustment for all town staff.
Commissioner Jim Fuller recommended that the board consider 3 percent raises. Town Manager Leamon Brice said 3 percent raises, in addition to market adjustments, would cost around $134,000.
Public Works Director Doug Wright and Planning Director Ben McCrary presented their departments’ budget requests for the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1. Other departments will present their requests at future meetings.
Mr. Wright requested $65,556 to make two part-time positions full-time. Those positions would include a full-time seasonal baseball field technician and a full-time downtown maintenance technician.
Mr. Wright said that use of McEver Fields on South Street was up 40 percent since 2009, and that a new employee would allow other public works staff to devote the time to other areas.
“If we see 500 more homes, just to maintain the level of service we have now, we will still need that position,” Mr. Wright said.
Mr. McCrary said building permits in the fourth quarter of 2012 were up 30 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2011. Citing that increase, Mr. McCrary requested $52,462 for an entry-level planning department position to handle routine processing of permits and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping. The $52,462 would include salary, benefits, and technology needed for the position.
Commissioner Connie Wessner also recommended that the town look into adding a walking or biking trail near the Piedmont Natural Gas pipeline being constructed through town. Mr. Brice said such a project would require easements from several landowners because Piedmont does not own the land around the pipeline.
Affordable Housing: The Lakeside Apartments are under contract with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Housing Partnership, said Town Affordable Housing Coordinator Cindy Reid. The partnership will renovate the apartments and rent them to tenants making less than 80 percent of the area’s median household income. The area median household income is $64,000 for a family of four, Ms. Reid said.
Economic Development: Economic Development Director Kim Fleming reported that the department conducted its first business retention survey. About 44 percent of Davidson businesses responded to the survey. More than 70 percent of businesses said that sales had increased over the past year, and less than 10 percent said sales had decreased. Only one business out of the 76 surveyed reported plans to leave Davidson. Common complaints from business owners included lack of parking downtown, Ms. Fleming said.