Continuing to do more with less in Indian Trail

INDIAN TRAIL – Joe Fivas’s budget presentation Tuesday, May 13, went much the same this year as last year in Indian Trail, as the town manager explained how the largest municipality in Union County can continue to move forward with a tax rate much lower than similar-sized towns.

The proposed budget plans to add one more contracted deputy through the Union County Sheriff’s Office, three new positions to the Parks and Recreation Department and a new accountant position, among other expenditures, while keeping the tax rate at 18.5 cents per $100 of property value. For comparison, the tax rate in Matthews is proposed to stay at 31.75 cents this year, while similar-sized towns Garner and Goldsboro are at 49 cents and 50 cents, respectively.

Fivas said that revenue growth will help the $10,347,016 2014-15 fiscal year budget as the state continues recovering from the recession, but, as in years past, he again warned that Indian Trail relies too heavily on unstable state fee revenue in his opinion. If the state were to drastically change the amount of fee revenue it provides to towns, which has recently been discussed in Raleigh as legislators look at ways to lower state taxes, Indian Trail could take a larger hit than other area towns due to its reliance on those fees, Fivas said. That could result in spending cuts in town, or an increase in property taxes to make up the difference.

Fivas also reminded town leaders that he believes they need to continue their push investing in infrastructure improvements. Indian Trail’s population grew from 1,942 residents in 1990 to 33,518 in 2010, putting a critical burden on area roads, while a handful of the town’s business parks are deteriorating and in need of repairs.

This year’s proposed budget, which received no feedback from council members other than thanking staff for their efforts, includes:

• The town will spend $1 million in street bond funds and $200,000 in transportation improvement funds to continue building a three- or four-lane traffic congestion relief loop through Indian Trail. The loop is part of a longer transportation plan that looks to improve congestion at a number of area intersections, add sidewalks and continue the extension of Chestnut Parkway.

• $289,515 for park infrastructure and start-up equipment. Indian Trail is currently developing two parks, which Fivas said are vital to the quality of life of residents and in making Indian Trail the “premier destination” for parks and recreation in Union County.

• An additional $80,743 to pay for an additional sheriff’s office deputy. Indian Trail is currently discussing a law enforcement assessment that will judge whether the town needs more contracted deputies, though the results of the study will not be complete before the 2014-15 budget is approved. Amanda Faulkenberry, the only resident who spoke about the budget at this week’s meeting, asked the town to consider adding four new law enforcement positions – two deputies and two detectives.

• $50,000 to design a new town website. Officials have previously said they would like a more modern website to better engage residents.

• An increase of $23,857 to the Cultural Arts Center as the town puts more efforts into increasing the special events and classes the center hosts.

A public hearing will be held on the proposal on May 27, a Tuesday, at which citizens can give input. A budget must be passed by June 30 or an emergency spending measure must be approved until a full budget is in place.

Find the budget proposal at www.indi antrail.org, under the “Departments” and then “Finance” categories.

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