PITTSBORO — Pittsboro’s town board passed its $10.3 million FY 2020-21 budget on Monday, a significant increase from the original proposed $9.3 million budget developed after estimated revenue …
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PITTSBORO — Pittsboro’s town board passed its $10.3 million FY 2020-21 budget on Monday, a significant increase from the original proposed $9.3 million budget developed after estimated revenue projections were increased based on updated local sales tax and ABC revenues.
With the new revenues, the budget now supports many of the items that the board of commissioners had considered priorities, including a 2.5% pay raise for employees, a pay study, investments in technology and ongoing support of Main Street Pittsboro.
The budget also includes a 2.5% increase in water and sewer rates, an item that Pittsboro Commissioner Jay Farrell attempted to remove from the budget after saying the increase would “be hard to explain to our residents who feel like they can’t drink the water.” Without the support of any of the other members of the board, the motion failed and the increase remained.
Pittsboro Finance Director Heather Meacham said the sales tax revenues were increased because April’s revenues were “better than anticipated.”
The budget still reflects revenue estimates for the upcoming year to be “3% more conservative” than the League of Municipalities guidance. The League of Municipalities is a North Carolina non-profit which for more than 100 years has represented towns’ and cities’ interests and provides guidance to municipalities for best practices.
In addition pay raises, a pay study and investments in technology, the budget also includes funding for three new positions — an engineering inspector, a police officer and a position in the Public Works/Parks Department. The funding for these positions is only for six months as the board decided to wait until a permanent town manager was hired to fill those positions.
The Main Street Pittsboro program generated significant discussion during the meeting on Monday as the board discussed whether to increase the program’s funding to $105,000, which includes a $15,000 facade grant program. While each of the board members noted support for the program, there was hesitation from Farrell and Mayor Pro-Tem Pamela Baldwin about increasing the funding during a pandemic.
Both Mayor Jim Nass and Commissioner Michael Fiocco voiced strong support for the program. Fiocco argued that with the “competition with development going on in the perimeter” of town, if the board needed to “continue to look after downtown” to “keep the historic portion of Pittsboro vibrant.” Nass added that for years the board has dedicated itself to protect old Pittsboro and downtown to the greatest extent possible.
Fiocco offered some middle ground for the discussion, suggesting a change to the split of ABC funds for the fiscal year. Typically, the excess revenues from the Pittsboro ABC Board are split with 40% going into the town’s general fund and 60% going into an ABC fund for a future store. He suggested changing the split for this year’s excess funds — which are estimated to be more than $240,000 — to provide a greater amount to the town which would make funds available for Main Street Pittsboro and while protecting the town’s “rainy day” funds. Nass, who formerly chaired the local ABC Board, said he believed the board was in good enough position to handle a change in the split for this year.
After discussion, the board voted unanimously to apportion 90% of the excess ABC revenues to the town with the remaining 10% staying with the ABC Board. Even with the extra revenue, the Pittsboro Board voted to only appropriate $96,000 to Main Street Pittsboro, including the facade grant program.
The budget is for the fiscal year that begins on July 1.
Casey Mann can be reached at CaseyMann@Chathamnr.com.