Board Receives Updated Draft Budget, to Hear from Public May 28
Updated at 2:23 p.m. May 21: This version includes the date the town board is expected to vote on the budget.
The Hillsborough Board of Commissioners has received the proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2020 and will receive input on the plan during a public hearing later this month.
The initial budget workshop and public hearing will be 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 28, in the Town Hall Annex, located at 105 E. Corbin St. The board is expected to vote on the budget at its June 10 meeting.
“It’s no surprise that we have a very tight budget again this year,” Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens said. “Our longstanding budget principles — take care of what we have, invest strategically for the future, and keep rate impact on citizens as low as we can — are taken very seriously. We can’t do everything we’d like, but I believe our budget represents the value of supporting town staff to do their work well and do it right. In the long run, that delivers the best value for the citizens we serve.”
Proposed FY20 budget
Under the draft plan for Fiscal Year 2019-20 — which starts July 1 and runs through June 30, 2020 — the town’s operating expenses would total $22.0 million, with:
- $10.6 million in expenses in the General Fund, a decrease of 1.2% from FY19.
- $10.7 million in expenses in the Water and Sewer Fund, a decrease of 10.5% from FY19.
- $653,000 in expenses in the Stormwater Fund, an increase of 7.2% from FY19.
Highlights of the draft budget include:
- Making no change in the property tax rate or stormwater fee. This would be the seventh consecutive year without a tax rate increase.
- Increasing water and sewer rates 5% each. The proposed water rate increase would help pay for debt service on the roughly $14.5 million reservoir expansion. The proposed sewer rate increase would be to responsibly maintain the materials, staff and equipment for this service.
- Repaving 5% of town streets, which is part of the town’s plan to repave streets on a 20-year cycle. Estimated cost: $360,500 of which $175,000 comes from gas tax revenues allocated to the town from the State Street-Aid Program, also referred to as the Powell Bill.
- Relocating the Public Works Department from its current location adjacent to the Eno River and floodplain to the town’s facility on N.C. 86 North. This move is to delay building a new public works facility, which has been estimated to cost nearly $3 million. Estimated cost: The estimated $127,000 cost would be covered with unspent funds from the current fiscal year.
- Increasing payment to Orange Rural Fire Department for fire protection services to help cover the department’s increase in operational costs. Estimated cost: About $43,000.
- Increasing hours for two positions: Increasing the public information officer position from 28 to 40 hours; and increasing the part-time fire inspector position from 8 to 16 hours and providing a used vehicle for the inspection work. Estimated cost: $13,000 and $18,000, respectively.
- Reallocating an unfilled community policing position to an assistant police chief position that would address staffing, training and operational needs. Estimated cost: About $45,000.
- Adopting a $15 minimum wage, merit raises, market rate adjustments and performance evaluation system improvements. Estimated cost: $315,000 for the $15 minimum wage implementation; and $35,000 from the General Fund and $10,000 from the Water and Sewer Fund for market rate mid-year adjustments as needed.
More information and citizen input
Hillsborough’s budget is made up of two types of funds — a general fund and enterprise funds. The General Fund pays for operations such as planning, public works and police and is mainly funded by taxes. The town has two enterprise funds — the Stormwater Fund and the Water/Sewer Fund. Annual stormwater fees fund stormwater operations, while monthly water and sewer fees based on use fund water and sewer operations. The town does not make a profit from providing stormwater or water and sewer service nor does it use the revenue for other purposes.
The budget workbook also includes departments’ balanced scorecards and top priorities. Hillsborough uses a balanced scorecard system of measures to implement its objectives. The system is used as part of the annual budget process to implement and communicate the Board of Commissioners’ mission, vision, strategic priorities and core values, ensuring that items included in the budget correspond with the town’s objectives. In addition to departmental scorecards, departments also have mapped top priorities and step-by-step ways to achieve goals.
Citizens are invited to ask questions and share their thoughts on the proposed budget. Attend the public hearing on May 28, or contact Hillsborough Budget Director Emily Bradford by email or by phone at 919-296-9427.
For more information on the budget process, see the town’s budget process video.