SILER CITY — The Town of Siler City’s proposed 2019-20 municipal budget projects a revenue and spending increase of $3,195,753, which town officials say are related to the completion of the …
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SILER CITY — The Town of Siler City’s proposed 2019-20 municipal budget projects a revenue and spending increase of $3,195,753, which town officials say are related to the completion of the $170,000,000 Mountaire Farms poultry processing plant near downtown. The budget, which is for the fiscal year beginning July 1, projects expenditures of $15,666,441, compared to the current fiscal year’s budget of $12,470,688, a 25.6 percent increase.
Town Manager Bryan Thompson is asking commissioners for an ad valorem tax increase of 3 cents per $100 valuation. According to Thompson, the property tax increase will create about $153,000 in additional revenue for the town, which has been earmarked to hire three firefighters for the Siler City Fire department. Chatham County, as part of its budget, is also proposing a 3 cent increase for Siler City’s fire district, which would bring in an additional $100,000.
Taxes and other revenues collected for fire-protection purposes go into special revenue funds administered by County Commissioners, who have the authority to levy a fire tax in each fire district of the County. At Siler City’s Board of Commissioners meeting on Monday, the board decided to use that money to hire two additional firefighters which would allow the Siler City Fire Department to have 24-hour coverage.
“This request was made [to Chatham County] in an effort to support the Town’s measures in professionalizing the Town’s fire service with the funding of full-time personnel within the Fire Department,” Thompson said in an email to the board prior to the meeting. “This is a concerted move to enable 24/7 operations of the Department, which will ultimately improve response time to calls for service and enable the Town’s ability to improve upon the current ISO [Insurance Services Office] ratings inside and outside the corporate limits within our Fire District.”
Water and sewer rates for municipal users will not increase. However, Waste Industries, the company Siler City contracts with for trash removal, is increasing its rates. Those increases won’t affect the overall town budget.
The budget reflects both required projects and priorities of the Siler City Board of Commissioners, which include renovations to town hall, increased funding to non-profits, employee retention and development, and increased costs related to increased utility usage by Mountaire Farms.
The City Hall Space Optimization program will make modifications to the interior of town hall. The program will include modifications to current office space, adding office space, improvements to the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, making the bathrooms compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, work to the elevator shaft, and a security software upgrade. They will also replace windows to make the building more energy efficient.
For non-profit funding, the Siler City Board of Commissioners determined that rather than a set amount on a line item for funding, it would instead set a percentage of the overall budget to be earmarked for non-profit funding amount to an increase of about $30,000 over the previous budget. Siler City Town Manager Bryan Thompson notes that by placing a cap on the funding each year, it makes it easier to budget as well as allows for funding to increase as the budget grows. The town sent notifications to area non-profits in November to alert them to the funding request process.
The budget funds several new positions in addition to three fire department personnel, including a administrative assistant for Public Works, a Human Resources Technician, and a Domestic Violence Advocate. The town’s pay for performance program is funded as well as funding for professional development and training including specialized training for the Siler City Police Department, as recommended by an internal review performed last year. Employee benefits have also been improved to ensure the town’s compensation is maintained at market levels.
The town’s Parks and Recreation Department budget would increase by 13 percent, largely due to a project aimed to create a master plan for Bray Park. The town owns about 50 acres adjacent to the area of the park, located on Alston Chapel Road in Siler City, that is already developed with baseball fields and the aquatic center. The increase also relates to non-athletic programming such as the Friday Night Flicks and Spring Chicken Festival programs that the department organizes.
The town’s budget also reflects additional expenditures for economic development. This includes an annual payment toward the town’s option to purchase the Chatham-Siler City Advanced Manufacturing Site, one of two megasites located in the county and economic incentives the board approved for projects. The cost for the option is split evenly with the county, each contributing $25,000 per year for up to five years. The most notable is the first incentive to Mountaire which is anticipated to be $450,000, a payment that refunds 80 percent of the property taxes the company pays to the town for the first five years of operation.
Revenues to the town’s Water and Sewer Fund are expected to increase by $1.9 million because of additional use from private industry growth, mostly from Mountaire. With the additional usage, the town is also hiring additional personnel including two additional Treatment Plant Operators and a Treatment Plant Maintenance Supervisor for the water and wastewater treatment plants. As certain aspects of the towns water and wastewater systems are managed from town hall, a portion of that revenue will also go toward the City Hall Space Optimization program. There are also additional costs for chemicals, sludge removal, maintenance equipment and other costs associated with the increased usage.
“Staff believes the proposed 2020 budget maintains a strategy of conservative fiscal management of public funds while providing funding for essential and desirable public services and improvements for the citizens and customers of Siler City,” Thompson’s budget message read.
The budget can be viewed in its entirety at Siler City Town Hall and at the Wren Memorial Library. The town will hold a public hearing on the budget at 7 p.m. on June 17 at Siler City Town Hall courtroom located at 311 N. Second Ave.
Casey Mann can be reached at CaseyMann@Chathamnr.com.