Cornelius waits for budget vote
by Staff Writer
by Brian Carlton
CORNELIUS – Town officials will give the public one last chance to speak before approving the budget. Despite a majority agreement on most items, commissioners Monday, June 4, delayed a final vote until their June 21 meeting.
The final budget comes in at $19.281 million, down from Town Manager Anthony Roberts original $19.6 million. The proposed budget includes a tax cut from 25 to 24 cents per $100 of assessed property.
All commissioners weren’t satisfied with the final result, however.
“I can’t support the budget,” commissioner David Gilroy said. “At the end of the day, it’s a large tax increase on Cornelius citizens.”
This year’s county property revaluations increased assessed values as high as 24 percent, meaning even though the tax rate drops, residents will end up paying more.
The budget also calls for a 6.5 percent hike in energy rates, passing on an increase in wholesale power costs.
The final budget includes $135,000 for the Cornelius-Lemley Fire and Rescue. “We’re fixing the gap issue and partially adding a fourth man,” Commissioner John Bradford said. “I do think safety is one of our most significant charges. I really don’t want to put any resident in harm’s way. We’re covering the gap the county left us holding. I want to make sure we’re balancing the right priorities.”
The town learned June 1 that state grants will provide $300,000 for the next phase of Robbins Park, reducing that item in the budget.
The town will only pay $100,000 this fiscal year for the park plans, Roberts said, with the majority of the work coming in the fall of 2013.
Police services came in at $4.8 million, which includes $320,000 for new cameras and vehicles. Other high-priced items include $735,000 for the Caldwell Station and Creek Greenway, $395,000 for sidewalk connections and $450,000 for street resurfacing.
Undecided on interchange shape
Coordinating improvements of I-77 exit 28 with N.C. Department of Transportation plans for work at the interchange would save the town money.
Commissioners included $200,000 in the budget for the plans, but can’t unite behind the design on the table, which includes a pedestrian walkway, canopy sails and design to invoke thoughts of water.
“I think it’s over-themed,” Gilroy said. “I strongly feel we ought to pause (and) look for something more classical that emphasizes the masonry and landscaping.”
Commissioners Bradford and Jeff Hair echoed Gilroy’s comments, questioning why the town needed to include canopies at a future cost of $600,000.