Davidson’s Town Board voted 5-0 on Tuesday to approve the $9.1 million 2013-14 town budget, which leaves the property tax rate and other fees unchanged and includes money for capital improvements, new equipment and equipment maintenance. And they discussed several development issues: The proposed Davidson Green School, expansion plans at Davidson Day School and a Florida developer’s plans for a big residential development off NC 73.
Also on Tuesday commissioners:
- Said farewell to board member Laurie Venzon, who was attending her final meeting before moving away. (See related story, “Planning a move to K.C., Commissioner Venzon exits board”)
- Approved shifting money from the stormwater fund to cover a shortfall in stormwater revenues this year. Property owners pay stormwater fees annually based on the amount of impervious surface on their lots, and the money pays for street gutters and other stormwater systems. A note attached to the agenda item says: “Stormwater revenues are not adequate to complete projects in FY 2012-13. An appropriation of $3,000 from fund balance is required to complete the projects, leaving a fund balance of $134,000.”
- Voted to create a $550,000 Parks/Greenway Project Fund. The town will seed the fund with $74,500 received from Piedmont Natural Gas for a right-of-way easement through Fisher Farm for a recently completed major gas line. The fund will pay for design and improvements of community parks.
- Approved taking over maintenance of a 0.16 mile stretch of South Street from the NC DOT. The strip runs from Davidson Elementary to the Cornelius line.
- Adopted wording changes to Chapter 14, Section 14.1-14.7, of the Municipal Code – Buildings and Building Regulation.
- Revised the town rules governing nuisances, including adopting an administrative fee and penalties for repeat violations. Chapter 30 defines nuisances as vacant lots overgrown with weeds, or littered with abandoned vehicles or trash.
- Approved four appointments to the MI-Connection Board of Directors. The board approved reappointed current members John Venzon and Brett Ellis, and new board members Larson Jaenicke and Howard Kosofsky. All but Venzon will serve terms running June 2013-June 2014. Venzon will finish the remaining 1-year of the term of Ken Essex of Davidson. Venzon had previously agreed to stay on the board of the town owned cable system, where he’s currently the chair, even though he is moving away.
- Discussed pros and cons of returning to curbside leaf pickups using a truck and employees, instead of requiring bagged leaves. No decision was made, but several board members said they’d like to take another look at providing the service, saying that bagging leaves is a hardship for some residents. Commissioner Brian Jenest observed that it would cost roughly the same ($50,000 to $60,000) to vacuum leaves every other week as it does to have weekly pickups of bagged leaves. (Cornelius, the last area town to offer curbside leaf pickups, has decided to eliminate the service in the coming year’s budget.)
The 2013-14 budget will guide town spending in the fiscal year that begins July 1. The vote came with no discussion, other than a comment by finance director Cindy Jones explaining that insurance quotes had come in within an expected range.
Town officials say the budget incorporates conservative revenue estimates, including possible property tax refunds as officials revise the 2011 county revaluation.
It leaves property taxes unchanged – at 35 cents per $100 of assessed value, and makes no changes in storm water or trash/recycling fees.
[Also Tuesday night, the Mecklenburg County Commission tentatively approved the fiscal 2014 county budget in a straw vote. Our news partner WFAE-FM reports that county property taxes would rise by 2.4 cents per $100 of assessed value under the new budget. County fire taxes for residents in Davidson’s Extra-Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ) would remain 5 cents.
As in other recent years, one of the town’s major expenses is a $1 million subsidy to MI-Connection Communications System, the local cable and internet network Davidson owns with Mooresville. But for the second year, that $1 million is not as high as it might have been, thanks to a 2012 agreement with Mooresvile that caps Davidson’s payments at $1 million annually and its share of any subsidy or profit at 30 percent.
While easing budget pains in the short term, the town is incurring a debt to Mooresville. It will continue paying $1 million a year until the debt is paid off. (Under the system budget approved last month, Davidson’s obligation to MI-Connection in 2013-14 is $1.7 million.)
See the full 2013-14 budget on the town website.
Commissioners held a public hearing last month on the town budget. Read more in our May 15, 2013, report, “At hearing, town unveils a $9.1M budget for 2013-14; taxes won’t change.”
At the end of Tuesday’s meeting, Town Manager Leamon Brice gave the board updates on several development projects on the horizon.
Earlier in the meeting, neighbors raised objections to the proposed Davidson Green School, which is considering buying a home at 511 S. Main St., and possible opening this fall. Brice told the board he and town staff have met with the school’s organizers and that the school is allowed under town rules. “They can do what I’ve heard them propose so far without coming before the (town) board, or planning board,” he said. He acknowledged concerns about traffic, but said there’s nothing in the town ordinances that would prohibit the school on those grounds. He also said the school has not bought the house nor has it submitted any application or permit yet for the project.
Brice also talked to the board about a looming disagreement with the NC DOT over the location of traffic lights on NC 73, near Bradford Park. Florida-based Centerline Homes has bought much of the remaining land in the former Davidson East project. It plans to build hundreds of new homes near the Carolinas HealthCare System behavioral health hospital now under construction. The massive development will create new traffic on NC 73, and the DOT is proposing to move the only traffic light in the area from the Bradford Park entrance west to the intersection with Ramah Church Road. He said more discussions with the DOT are still to come.
Brice also told the board about Davidson Day School’s recently announced plans to expand its campus off Griffith and Jetton streets. The announcement came as a surprise to town officials, as the school previously had planned to expand with a second campus in Mount Mourne. Brice noted that the school still needs to raise the $4 million for the project and has not yet filed an application with the town. He said under the previously approved master plan, the school has the right to add about 20,000 square feet on the campus.
Meanwhile, Brice said the town also is continuing planning for a road connection between Potts and Sloan streets, on the West Side. He said the town is considering a proposal by resident Dan Carrigan to look at an alternate route for the connection, which would link the two streets through an area that’s currently undeveloped. The town is contracting with an engineer to develop a scope of work and cost estimates for the project, which could happen in 2015. The alternate route “actually it has a lot of merit to it,” Brice said. “We’ve asked in the scope of work for the engineer to look at both of these routes.” Public meetings would be held before the town begins any work, he added.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING MEETINGS
Town officials have held the first of a series of meetings to examine possible updates to the affordable housing ordinance, Brice said Tuesday. The first, with developers and builders, was “a good meeting,” he said. “If I took away a major theme from that it’s that we’re really rigid. … We need to be more flexible and educate folks more.” Brice said more meetings are planned with other constituencies, including affordable housing advocates, affordable housing residents, and bankers, whom Brice said are often reluctant to loan money to projects with deed restrictions.
See the full agenda and related documents on the town website.
See the 2013-14 budget on the town website.