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Hillsborough Releases Proposed FY2018 Budget Early

 
Monday, March 13, 2017
Hillsborough Releases Proposed FY2018 Budget Early
The town's elected leaders and management team discussed the first draft of the proposed budget Saturday during a budgetary planning retreat.

A first draft of the Town of Hillsborough’s financial plan for the next three fiscal years is available now for review and calls for no change in property tax, stormwater fees or water and sewer rates.

The draft Fiscal Year 2018 budget includes:

  • Increasing the vehicle fee for citizens from $10 to $30 to help fund the town’s annual street resurfacing program.
  • Expanding and renovating the Town Hall Campus.
  • Providing individually assigned vehicles to police officers.

For the sixth consecutive year, the town’s draft budget workbook and three-year financial plan was presented to the Hillsborough Board of Commissioners in February to allow more time for discussion and handling of unexpected issues.

The board met Saturday, March 11, at the UNC Hospitals Hillsborough Campus for a budget planning retreat with the town’s management team to discuss the proposals. See the retreat news release for information on the retreat, including direction on some budget proposals. Revisions to the draft budget and financial plan will be made until the budget is adopted in June.

Proposed FY18 Budget

Under the first draft plan, the town’s operating expenses would total $22.7 million, a 6.2 percent decrease from the current fiscal year with:

  • $10.4 million in expenses in the General Fund, an increase of 6.3 percent from FY17.
  • $11.7 million in expenses in the Water/Sewer Fund, a decrease of 6.4 percent from FY17.
  • About $600,000 in expenses in the stormwater utility fund, an increase of nearly 1 percent from FY17.

Property Tax Rate — No change in the property tax rate is proposed. As it is a property tax revaluation year in Orange County, the town manager is recommending adjusting the town’s tax rate to a revenue neutral rate to achieve the same amount of revenue despite tax value changes. This would be the fifth consecutive year without a tax rate increase.

Water and Sewer Rates — No change in water and sewer rates are proposed. However, possible 5 percent increases are forecast for both water and sewer in fiscal years 2019 and 2020. Water rates were last raised in July 2012 while sewer rates were last raised in July 2016.

Vehicle Fee — Raising the vehicle fee from $10 to $30, as authorized by the N.C. General Assembly in 2015, is proposed as a long-term approach to help fund replacement of streets. The annual street resurfacing program is projected to cost about $380,000 in FY18 and to increase over the years to ensure the town maintains a 20-year replacement cycle for roads. Increasing the vehicle fee would yield $152,640 per year as opposed to the current revenue of $50,880. The town’s vehicle fee has been $10 since it was instituted 25 years ago.

North Campus Project — Expansion and renovation of the Town Hall Campus, called the North Campus Project, for an estimated $1.3 million would include:

  • Moving the town’s finance and billing operations as well as its meeting room to property purchased by the town two years ago at 101 E. Corbin St. The property is located across from the Town Hall Campus, 101 E. Orange St.
  • Converting the campus’s Town Barn meeting room into needed office space.
  • Allowing the Police Department to occupy the Town Hall Annex building for overflow space until a public safety station is built on North Churton Street by the Town Hall Campus. The department’s main station is located next to the Town Hall Annex, 137 N. Churton St., which now houses the town’s finance and billing operations.
  • Improving the Town Hall Campus’s function as a tourist attraction and recreational space, with better landscaping and trails.

Police Vehicles — In addition to replacing four aging vehicles, purchasing six additional vehicles is recommended to allow vehicles to be assigned to individual officers and taken home by those living within a radius of about 25 miles of the town’s police stations. The proposal for an individually assigned vehicle program would help the department remain competitive with surrounding agencies in recruiting and retaining officers and would help ensure an adequate number of vehicles during large public events and emergencies. The estimated cost for six vehicles to start the Individually Assigned Vehicle Program is about $276,000. The total cost for replacing four vehicles and adding six to the fleet would be $460,000.

More information

To see the key items proposed for funding in the draft plan, see the FY18 Budget on One Page document. Additional details are provided in the town manager’s budget message and in the departmental budget sections of the proposed plan. An updated budget and plan will be presented to the Board of Commissioners in mid-May, with the initial budget workshop and public hearing scheduled for May 22.

Citizens are invited to ask questions and share thoughts. Staff will be available to discuss the budget at the State of the Town address on March 27 in the Whitted Human Services Center, 300 W. Tryon St., and at the Last Fridays arts event April 28 in downtown Hillsborough. Or contact:

  • Town Manager Eric Peterson: email or 919-732-1270, ext. 80
  • Budget Director Emily Bradford: email or 919-732-1270, ext. 88
  • Assistant to the Town Manager Jen Della Valle: email or 919-732-1270, ext. 81