PITTSBORO — The board of commissioners held its first in-person regular meeting since 2020 on Monday evening, holding the first of two public hearings regarding the next fiscal year’s budget.
Town Manager Chris Kennedy presented the nearly $9.2 million budget — up from last year’s nearly $7.3 million budget — to the commissioners and explained how the budget breaks down for the 2022-23 fiscal year.
The proposed budget would increase the tax rate to 0.44 per $100 of valuation from last year’s 0.4333 per $100 valuation. This hike in the tax rate will generate over $52,000 in revenue for the town, according to the budget report.
The general fund expenditures have been allocated across the town’s 13 departments, ranging from the Pittsboro Police Department to Parks and Recreation.
Pproposed budgets for fiscal 2022-23 are:
• Governing Board: $179,857
• Administration: $717,312
• Legal: $71,500
• Engineering: $544,462
• Planning: $850,375
• Police: $2,049,484
• Fire: $1,141,468
• Public Works: $736,325
• Public Buildings & Grounds: $100,640
• Sanitation: $509,0440
• Debt Service: $124,233
• Recreation: $741,567
• Downtown: $85,000
• Transfer to Capital Projects: $1,335,353
Kennedy said it took the hard work of several entities to balance the funds for the coming fiscal year.
“Like any budget, there’s a lot of work that goes into this, not only our team in town and staff, but also from the board of commissioners and certainly our citizens, residents and stakeholder groups,” Kennedy said.
Commissioners had the chance to ask questions about the budget and request adjustments if they felt it was necessary.
Mayor Pro Tem Pamela Baldwin said she had an issue with a proposal for the town to purchase more vehicles for some of the departments, including for Parks and Recreation.
“At this time, I don’t think I want to see us purchasing that many vehicles, especially at the Parks,” Baldwin said.
Parks and Recreation also requested the addition of two positions — a recreation coordinator and a parks maintenance superintendent — to increase the department’s capacity to upkeep the parks and activities. Parks and Recreation currently has one full-time employee and one part-time employee.
Baldwin said she was also oppposed to allocating the funds for those positions at this time.
“With the parks right now, that one individual and the half-person (part-time employee) should be able to take care of that,” she said. “Because in the past, we only had one person to take care of the parks and before he left; he was sufficiently taking care of that.”
Kennedy said he would rather purchase vehicles for Parks and Recreation employees because he said it was helpful in keeping good employees working for the town.
“It’s not my preference (to not purchase vehicles) because there’s a lot of concerns with that,” he said. “When you’re trying to retain good staff, they don’t want to drive their own cars, especially for town business.”
Commissioner Kyle Shipp said he felt it was important to have vehicles for Parks and Recreation staff to be able to move equipment between parks and facilities. Shipp also supported the idea of hiring additional help for the department.
“For the size of our park lands, even what is requested for staff is low for the parks we have,” he said. “We’ve also had to take out a lot of equipment … we’re proposing a lot of money for improvements this year because we did not do any for a while, and we get a lot of comments about the maintenance of the parks.”
Kennedy added to Shipp’s comments by saying some of the town’s parks are in need of repairs and renovations, which would require an additional vehicle and possibly additional help.
“We have a fair amount of rotting features at parks,” he said. “We are at 111 acres (of parks) now, and we have an MOU that’s displayed that is a result of us being unable to maintain our parks.”
A second public hearing on the proposed budget will take place during the commissioner’s regular meeting on May 9. Members of the public can add their input during the public comment period in the hearing.
Reporter Taylor Heeden can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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