HUNTERSVILLE – Town Manager Greg Ferguson has asked commissioners to consider increasing the tax rate to pay for transportation improvements and the past year’s debt to breed economic development.
Ferguson’s proposed 2014-15 fiscal year budget seeks a $0.0225 increase to $0.305 to fund 2013 debts and projects. He presented it to commissioners during the May 5 meeting.
The town has the lowest tax rate among the 20 most populous municipalities in N.C., Ferguson said. Even with a tax increase, Huntersville, the 18th largest municipality, will still have the lowest tax rate among those cities and towns.
“Tax increases are directly proportional to transportation projects,” Commissioner Ron Julian said, backing Ferguson.
The budget calls for an increase in the annual solid waste fee from $54 to $72 annually because of contract increase in the number of homes served and fuel costs.
Total wholesale power costs will increase by 14.9 percent per Kathy Moyer, director of ElectriCities. This will have a direct effect on the retail rate.
The budget also considers adding one full-time position in the parks and recreation department and includes full costs of the 2013 General Obligation Bonds.
Also included in the budget is a market adjustment of 3 percent for employee salaries in the coming year.
Ferguson wants to increase funding for fire tanks to benefit the Huntersville Volunteer Fire Department.
The budget proposes an increase in the debt service for the $8.1 million of 2013 bonds and reserves $10.975 million to be issued for September of 2018 for the 2015 General Obligation Bonds.
The budget takes into consideration an additional $3 million for the Gilead Road/U.S. 21 intersection improvements. Altogether, the project will come to $9.6 million.
Commissioners will hold a public hearing for the budget on May 19. Ferguson plans for commissioners to adopt the proposed budget June 2.
Medical offices concern Hamptons residents
A developer has interest in building medical offices on 12.42 acres at the west side of U.S. 21 directly across from the Hamptons subdivision at Northdowns Lane.
The Merrifield Partners LLC proposed a subdivision sketch plan to create eight new lots along U.S. 21.
Hamptons residents expressed their concerns at a neighborhood meeting March 20 regarding the proposal, speaking on the issues of traffic, safety and noise.
Residents would like a traffic light installed at U.S. 21 and Northdowns Lanes, but also worry that too much traffic means congestion. They are concerned for the noise that will be brought on from I-77 once the site is cleared and plans for a bridge running through the site.
While there are some Hamptons residents who support the plan, Todd Kunz, president of the Hamptons HOA, said the property across the street will cause safety concerns at the Northdowns intersection, as well as water run-off issues and tree mitigation.
“More developments means less safety,” Kunz said.
Laura Begram, Hampton’s resident, worries that the aesthetics of the neighborhood will be affected if property were to be built across the street from the entrance.
“Aesthetics really make up this community,” she said. “I want to see the neighborhood enhanced, not harmed.”
Susan Iruin, representative attorney of the developer, said the bridge that will go through the medical facility and cross over I-77 will help traffic flow and will not affect aesthetics negatively.
“We will include the addition of turn lanes at the entrance of the offices and the Hamptons neighborhood and a left-turn lane at Sam Furr Road,” she said, while speaking to traffic congestion.
After hearing multiple sides of the plan, the town board voted to defer a decision until the May 19 meeting.
In other business:
• One More Neighborhood, Inc. requested to rezone approximately 0.88 acres from general residential and manufactured home overlay to highway commercial conditional district at 11707 Cimmaron Road and 11700 and 11708 McCoy Road. All commissioners denied the request and accepted the withdrawal of the applicant.
• With the exception of commissioners Rob Kidwell and Danny Phillips, town board members approved the decision to buy property at 201 Huntersville-Concord Road. The property is part of Main and Maxwell Park.
• Town board members supported the motion for the legislators to look at the coal ash spill in N.C. and take action immediately. The board urges the General Assembly pass legislation to prohibit the placement of any additional waste into any coal ash ponds. They ask to require all coal ash in the state to be moved to safe and dry storage away from water resources.
• Ferguson welcomed Cleveland Spruill, the new police chief, at the May 5 town board meeting. Spruill started his role that same day.