MATTHEWS – Residents in Matthews will see no tax increase this year if the town’s preliminary budget holds true, though next year could see an increase due to the South Trade Street project.
Leaders in Matthews held a brief, early discussion about the 2014-15 town budget on Monday, May 12, before their regular board meeting. The current proposal includes a 2 percent merit pool salary increase for town staff, seven new vehicles for the Matthews Police Department to continue replacing aging vehicles, more firefighters for Matthews Fire & EMS and a number of other small additions in a budget that would increase less than 2 percent. Town spending would increase from $19,095,163 in 2013-14 to $19,442,656 in 2014-15, but the tax rate would remain flat at 31.75 cents per $100 of taxable property value.
A workshop is scheduled for Monday, May 19, where the mayor and commissioners will dive deeper into Town Manager Hazen Blodgett’s recommended budget and start to finalize the version that will be discussed by the public on May 27, a Tuesday, and could be presented for a vote on June 9. Big-ticket items leaders will have to consider include $60,000 for a new vehicle for public works, an additional $34,000 for ammunition for Matthews police in part to help in training exercises and the staff salary increase. Blodgett said Monday night he wishes the increase was 2.5 percent, mentioning that the town’s roughly 130 employees are the key to making Matthews what it is today. A number of local towns are working to put staff raises back into their budgets following years of flat salaries during the
A number of items were left off the budget proposal, but still included in a wish list of suggestions that town leaders could opt to insert into the budget. One of those is the need for a $50,000 back up emergency operations center for Matthews police, which would include improvements to the radio and telephone recording system. The budget also doesn’t include funds to move a traffic signal to a different intersection on Crestdale Road, at $40,000, for improvements to technology in the main town hall meeting room, or money for a handful of town staff programs and other endeavors.
The budget doesn’t include funds for the South Trade Street project, which likely will come to bear in the 2015-16 budget. Blodgett said Monday night that a tax increase likely will be needed to pay off the bonds for the
Numerous other pressures could play a part in the town’s budgets, potentially as early as this summer. The town estimates seeing $45,000 in rebates going back to homeowners as part of the flawed 2011 Mecklenburg County property tax revaluation, and new state management of different fees municipalities receive will siphon money from town coffers. Meanwhile, the “cost of doing business” has increased, Blodgett said, with everything from solid waste fees to street lighting costing more this year than last. Powell Bill funds, which towns receive from the state for road work, also could decrease
Increased revenues from property taxes will likely mitigate those losses this year, Blodgett said.