Mint Hill begins budget discussions

MINT HILL – Leaders in Mint Hill recently began discussions for the 2014-15 budget, but regardless of the details of the future spending plan, commissioners and town staff have one goal – preventing a tax increase.

“I have every intention of presenting a budget that leaves the tax rate at 27 cents,” Town Manager Brian Welch said.

And with no large capital projects or department increases, it’s a goal Welch is confident he can achieve.

Department heads for Mint Hill Police, Mint Hill Fire, and planning and public works departments presented their budgets at the town’s Wednesday, April 16, meeting with only some changes or additions from the current year’s budget. The budget for 2013-14 was about $11.8 million, Welch said, which included money from the general fund, Powell Bill, infrastructure and tourism funds.

“There are some slight changes,” he said. “Financially it’s going to be real close to what it was last year because there are some things we got this year that we don’t have to get next year.”

Some of the larger requests, Welch said, come from the Mint Hill Police Department and the town’s public works department. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department recently shifted to a digital radio system, so the Mint Hill department will have to spend about $100,000 purchasing new radios for
officers. The department also is requesting two replacement vehicles and one new position, which will be funded from drug forfeiture money in the first year. The town’s public works department requested equipment to seal roads, which would lower the cost of overall road maintenance in the long-term, and replacement motors for about six

Welch won’t know where the money for the purchases will come from, or even exactly what requests he will include in the proposed budget until he drafts the budget that will be presented to the board of commissioners.

“I don’t know how any of (these requests) are going to be paid for, this was just presented by the department heads,” he said.

The completion of some sidewalk additions also could be in the proposed budget. Mint Hill has been constructing sidewalks throughout the town for the past two years in hopes of making some areas more pedestrian friendly. There are still some small gaps that need to be filled once the first two phases are complete. Sidewalk additions are funded through Powell Bill funds the town receives from the North Carolina Department of Transportation for improvements to roads, sidewalks and other transportation infrastructure in Mint Hill.

Although town leaders don’t expect to see a large difference in the proposed budget, Commissioner Lloyd Austin said it might be time for the town to start planning for the future and putting away funds for capital projects that may come up further down the

“This town continues to grow, and there’s a lot of subdivisions out there that continue to build homes and houses, and there are no new roads out there,” he said. “At some point we are going to have to take some money from somewhere and make some improvements to roads.”

Mint Hill also recently applied for a 2014 N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund Grant for the purchase of parkland at 9801 Brief Road. If the town receives the $335,000 matching grant it will only pay for the purchase of the property, Austin said. Commissioners will then have to decide how to fund the infrastructure at the park, he added, which could be included in the coming year’s budget. Commissioners have not decided what type of park – active or passive – will be constructed on the property.

The board has to adopt a budget by June 30 or will have to pass an emergency budget to continue town functions until a budget is adopted. The date, time and location for the town’s next budget meeting has not been


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