By Josh Whitener
Matthews residents could soon pay more in taxes and fees.
Town Manager Hazen Blodgett is recommending a 2-cent tax increase for the 2013-14 fiscal year, which would raise the tax rate from 30.25 cents to 32.25 cents per $100 of taxable property. He’s also proposing doubling the town’s vehicle tag fee from $15 a year to $30 a year.
Blodgett presented the proposed budget to town commissioners during their Monday, May 13, meeting. For a person who owns a $200,000 house, the proposed tax increase would equate an additional $3.34 per month, or about $40 per year. Residents can have their say on the proposal during a public hearing May 28 at the Board of Commissioners’ 7 p.m. meeting. Commissioners are expected to adopt the budget on June 10.
Mint Hill Manager Brian Welch will present his recommended budget to commissioners at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 22 at town hall. All budget meetings are open to the public.
Blodgett’s recommended $20,723,524 budget proposal calls for a general budget includes $1,388,356 in tourism funds. Last year’s total budget was $20,472,714 – about $250,000 less than this year’s proposed total budget.
Blodgett said the tax increase would generate about $668,000. The increase is needed, he said, to combat Mecklenburg County’s property revaluation errors and pay for proposed staff increases for the Matthews Fire & EMS Department.
“With no growth revenues and the county’s troubled revaluation negatively impacting our budget, we are recommending a 2-cent property tax increase in order to meet the needs of our citizens,” Blodgett said in a memo.
During the next fiscal year, Matthews expects to lose $459,000 in property and sales tax revenues, $238,000 of which will be refunds from the county’s revaluation appeals. Blodgett’s memo said the town has already lost $300,000 due to revaluation errors.
The proposed 2-cent tax increase also would allow the Fire & EMS Department to hire three additional firefighter/EMTs, as well as an administrative staffer. Funding these positions would cost the town $162,000.
“As the population has grown, so has the number of calls the department responds to,” Blodgett said in the memo. “The department responds to over 3,000 calls a year and utilizes both paid and volunteer firefighters as staff members. We have reached a point where we need more manpower in order to meet the emergency needs of our community.”
The budget proposal also calls for a vehicle tag fee increase from $15 a year to $30 a year. The increase would generate about $660,000 to be used for paving and maintaining town streets. Matthews spends about $800,000 annually for street paving and maintenance, according to the memo.
The town expects to lose $136,000 in sales tax revenues and $85,000 in other revenues, such as ABC, telecommunications and cable revenues.
Other highlights of the proposed 2013-14 fiscal year budget include:
• 2.5-percent average employee performance salary increases
• Governing body – $170,806, including $XXXXX for an out-of-town planning conference
• Town management – $411,173
• Police – $5,345,508
• Fire & EMS – $1,369,065
• Public works – $5,501,361
• Planning and development – $387,623
• Parks, recreation and cultural resource – $1,081,814
• Levine Senior Center – $5,000 donation from the town’s general fund
• Tourism grants – $56,000
• Matthews Alive! Festival 2013 – $45,000
• Mecklenburg County Sportsplex – $175,000
• Matthews Historical Museum – $38,000, which covers operational expenses and one part-time employee
• Arts & Science Council – $10,000