Raises, waste fee increase proposed in Waxhaw budget

WAXHAW – Waxhaw could see a number of changes in its 2014-15 budget if commissioners approve some of the changes recently proposed to them by their new interim town manager.

The two largest changes would be the doubling of the solid waste fee, to $80 per household, and the increased stipend for commissioners, which is currently $8,863 per year and would include an additional $550 per month – $100 of which will go toward commissioners’ cellphone costs. This increase would total about $6,600 per year, nearly doubling the stipend for commissioners.

The budget also proposed a 3 percent pay increase for all town employees, which is slightly higher than the 2 percent pay increase many nearby towns have proposed in their budgets. Waxhaw employees received a similar raise in last year’s budget, Interim Town Manager Greg Mahar said.

“The (previous) manager, when he drafted the budget, wanted to include a pay raise to keep up with the cost of (living), to keep the talent here in town,” Mahar said.

The previous town manager, Mike McLaurin, drafted the original proposed budget, which is now being taken over by Mahar. McLaurin left his post on April 30.

Doubling the town’s solid waste fee from $40 to $80 would help combat the growing increase in solid waste costs Waxhaw has seen over the years. Current funds collected by the fee only cover about 19 percent of the town’s solid waste costs, which are projected to be nearly $1 million in the coming fiscal year, Mahar said. Solid waste costs for the 2013-14 year totaled $781,290, with only $150,358 coming from fee revenue, according to the proposed budget.

“It’s becoming a larger and larger portion of our budget, so one of the thoughts was to capture some of those fees,” Mahar said.

Although the increase is included in the proposed budget, commissioners could choose to decrease, or increase, the fee before approving the plan.

Although there are no large-scale capital projects, like the recently completed Waxhaw Police Department that was included in last year’s budget, the proposed budget does include nearly $86,000 for designing and installing wayfinding signs throughout town. This would be one phase in a three-phase plan, which will cost about $250,000 by its completion. Wayfinding signs are decorative markers towns use to direct drivers and pedestrians toward places of interest such as a park or town hall. Indian Trail also is in the process of installing wayfinding signs, and Matthews recently completed a wayfinding and beautification project that town leaders there have applauded.

“The request was to do (the wayfinding signs) over two years, and the (previous) manager’s recommendation was to do it over three years,” Mahar said. The board has not given any indication that it would like to stick with a two-year implementation or is fine with completing the project over the next three years.

The budget also calls for $100,000 to fund any studies or preliminary work commissioners want to see done for the new town hall and funding for engineering studies at the intersections of N.C. 16 and Waxhaw Parkway and N.C. 16 and Bonds Grove Church Road. Both intersections have been a large point of concern for residents who say traffic at each intersection backs up a considerable amount without traffic lights and turning left out of the intersections can be dangerous at certain times of the day.

The town also could see a number of hires over the next year, with new positions included in the proposed budget – two in the building inspections department, one planner, a parks and recreation director, a downtown manager and an evidence technician for the police department. All of the positions, Mahar said, are to keep up with the growth seen in Waxhaw and to ensure the town maintains the quality of life for all residents and community members.

A full copy of the proposed 2014-15 budget can be found online at www.waxhaw.com by searching “2014-15 budget.”

 

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