MINT HILL – Commissioners in Mint Hill will consider approving a raise for town employees and adding staff to the Mint Hill Volunteer Fire Department as part of the recently proposed 2014-15 fiscal budget.
Town Manager Brian Welch led a special work session with Mint Hill leaders on May 13, highlighting his proposed budget before the formal presentation, public hearing and possible vote, likely in June. The town must adopt a budget by June 30 or pass an emergency spending plan until a budget is in place.
The current proposal does not call for a tax increase from the current 27-cent rate, but does look to give salary raises to town employees, hire six additional employees for the Mint Hill Volunteer Fire Department – which will be funded entirely by the department’s new fee structure – and make other minor changes to the town’s proposed $10.5 million budget.
Town employees have not received a salary increase in some time, Welch said, something that led him to include raises in his proposed budget. A number of local town managers are asking for pay raises for staff in nearby municipalities in their 2014-15 budgets after many towns eliminated raises during the recession.
One of the largest changes seen in the proposed budget is the hiring of six new personnel for the Mint Hill VFD, two new employees per shift. Funding for the new employees – totaling $300,000, according to estimates provided by Welch – will come from new fees for EMS services recently adopted by the department. EMS services were previously provided at no charge to Mint Hill residents, but a fee structure was put in place after the department saw a significant increase in call volume due to population increases. The proposed budget also would provide Mint Hill VFD with $151,000 for a new ladder truck and $65,000 from fire district proceeds; Idlewild Volunteer Fire Department $190,000, and $65,000 from fire district proceeds; and Midland Volunteer Fire Department $5,000; in addition to regular funding for the Mint Hill department from the town.
The new budget also calls for town staff to begin maintenance of landscaping at Wilgrove Park and Mint Hill Veterans Memorial Park instead of hiring a landscaping service as in years past, Welch said. If approved by the board, Mint Hill will purchase mowing and landscaping equipment this year and one new employee will be hired for ground maintenance to ensure the parks are kept in good shape, Welch said.
Welch also is requesting funding for a staff engineer to help the planning department with different zoning applications, capital projects and more. The town currently does not have an engineer on staff. Many projects were not included in the final allotment when the town applied for funding to help pay for sidewalk projects recently because there were no plans provided with the application, Welch said – something that could be solved with a town
“Everything we’ve paid for on N.C. 51 probably would have been free if we had a staff engineer (to develop plans),” Welch said at the meeting.
Aside from more sidewalk projects throughout town, which will mostly be paid for from Powell Bill funds received from the North Carolina Department of Transportation, town leaders aren’t planning on any capital projects for the coming year, according to the proposed budget.
Commissioners can still request changes to the proposed spending plan, and residents will have a chance to voice concerns or ask questions at the town’s budget public hearing in June – a time and date have not yet been announced.