CORNELIUS NC: The Cornelius Town Board passed its budget for fiscal year 2019/2020 on June 3rd by a vote of 3 to 2. More details to follow soon. View the meeting online at the Cornelius Town Hall website.
What Happened at the Last Town Board Meeting
The mostly empty citizen section belied the importance of the May 20th Cornelius Town Board meeting. Town Manager Andrew Grant outlined the proposed budget for fiscal year 2020 which includes “unprecedented debt” and a proposed tax rate of 22.2 cents per $100 of assessed value.
New items in the budget
Manager Grant began his 2020 fiscal year proposal outlining spending changes, including expenditures for a new crash data tool for the police department and a human resources director. Other line items include new police vehicles and funds for long-standing issues like drainage in the Smithville neighborhood.
These expenses, along with what Manager Grant referred to as “unprecedented debt” for the town (bonds for roads and other improvement projects), will increase town expenditures. While committing to “even leaner” operating expenditures, Manager Grant proposed a rate of 22.2 cents per $100 of assessed value, 2 cents above revenue neutral. The new tax rate will be lower than the current rate of 25.5 cents, however, with the recent property re-assessment residents could see an increase in their tax bill. Cornelius is still the lowest tax rate in the area.
Commissioner Dave Gilroy recommends more budget discipline
In response to the proposal, Commissioner Dave Gilroy claimed it was a a “good narrative” to raise taxes to service bond debt but that “it is not true.” He maintains that personnel and other costs “need more discipline.” In contrast, citizen Janet Spain told the board that “we can’t afford not to raise taxes.” She believes recent personnel losses are due to a lack of competitive salaries. She also pointed out that training replacement personnel is more expensive than salary hikes.
Police Chief Kevin Black spoke after the meeting on similar personnel retention issues with losses “double” the expected 4-5/ year. He continued to say that this had been remedied with a pay plan that made Cornelius Police Department salaries more competitive. More comments on tax rates are expected June 3rd before a possible vote.
Street Smarts program
The May 20th meeting also included a presentation on the Transportation Advisory Board’s Street Smarts initiative. Street Smarts is a program that allows citizens to notify the town management of traffic issues. The idea is that citizens will see problems that management may miss. The town management team demoed it in real time pointing on the map to a pothole on West Catawba Avenue. This resource can be found at https://www.cornelius.org/639/Street-Smarts.
Other items on the agenda
Other issues include a presentation from Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation noting a new law enforcement boat house and beach operations at Ramsey Creek Park. Plans were also presented for the new North Regional Recreation Center with construction expected to begin in the fall with a completion date in 2021.
The public will have more opportunities to voice their opinion of the proposed budget at either the next Connecting Cornelius (at Harvey’s Cornelius) or the next Cornelius Town Board meeting, both on Monday June 3rd (at 8:30am and 7pm respectively). For complete details, download a portable document (pdf) of the proposed budget from the Town of Cornelius website.
Cornelius Town Board meets the 1st and 3rd Mondays of the month at 7pm in the Assembly Room at Cornelius Town Hall, 21445 Catawba Avenue, Cornelius, NC 28031. You can view current and past agendas as well as video streaming of the meetings on the Cornelius Town Hall website.