No tax increase in proposed budget

Published 12:05 am Thursday, June 7, 2018

By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

Although the proposed budget for fiscal year 2018-19 for Clemmons reflects a 3.4 percent increase compared to last year’s amended budget, once again there is no increase in the tax rate or stormwater fee.

Village Manager Scott Buffkin presented his budget message in last Tuesday night’s Clemmons Village Council meeting and called for a public hearing next Monday to adopt the budget ordinance.

The General Fund budget is at $7,560,450 (with a tax rate remaining unchanged at 11.5 cents per $100 valuation) and the Stormwater Fund is at $1,967,625 (with an annual stormwater fee of $60 per residential unit).

Buffkin said that a portion of the slight increase includes capital projects that were reappropriated, such as the road extension for Clemmons library, Lewisville-Clemmons Road connectivity project, sidewalk projects and paving at Public Works.

A breakdown of the proposed budget calls for 30 percent going to public works, followed by capital (22 percent), public safety (19 percent), streets (14 percent) and administration (9 percent) among the top categories.

Buffkin, who praised the work of finance officer Ann Stroud, staff and council for their help, said that the budget “allows us to continue to provide exceptional service to our citizens by employing well trained and highly motivated staff while funding necessary improvements and additions to our infrastructure.”

While considering this budget during this meeting, councilman Mike Combest also wanted to look ahead for projections that could streamline the process for future councils.

“When we approve this budget, I would propose to add one element that we could ask the staff to kind of forecast what the impact might be two, four, six, maybe 8 years from now to try and tie it to seating of the new council so they will be conscious of what this is going to do to an incoming council,” Combest said. “I always look at streets, for example, which right now is 14 percent (of the budget). If we adopt this budget, in six years that might have to grow to 18 percent. That will tell us to look at those considerations repeatedly rather than just once a year at the retreat. Like routinely, it’s every budget drill. This budget will likely cause this effect six, eight years from now. I don’t know if we do that deliberately enough.”

With consensus of the council, Buffkin said that some type of future forecast was certainly something that staff could accomplish.

In the previous May meeting, the council discussed some items during from a budget workshop follow-up, including exploring the idea of creating additional funding for the marketing/events area.

That conversation continued in last Tuesday night’s meeting with a “wish list” from Shannon Ford, marketing/events coordinator, who said she is “tapped out on free marketing to promote events.”

In addition to more paid advertising, fliers and posters, Ford’s list included the possible purchase of a movie screen, projector and sound system for movie nights in the Village. The average cost to rent a large movie screen for each event is about $1,000, she said, along with paying $900 for the movie rights.

Other ideas included shuttle services for many of the growing events and possible inclusion of a winter concert — possibly a bluegrass jamboree — for something different.

“Our studies have shown that people want concerts,” said councilman Chris Wrights.

After a discussion among council members, Buffkin said there seemed to be interest in pursuing some of the proposals on the list for future consideration.

In other agenda items, Buffkin provided an update on Tanglewood Business Park, noting that the closing for the park’s first tenant, Beaufurn, has been moved to July 11.

“We have requested additional documentation from the county on return on investment calculations, transportation impact, quality of life expectations and how the Village may participate in the area that will be opened up for development outside the park,” Buffkin said. “Personally, I want to say thank you to council members for reaching out to the county commissioners. We feel like we are seeing more productive exchanges now that you guys are helping the commissioners understand our citizens’ concerns.”

Councilwoman and Mayor Pro Tem Michelle Barson, who ran the meeting with Mayor John Wait being in Raleigh for the N.C. League of Municipalities’ first Town and State Dinner, said that dialogue continues in regular meetings with county commissioners “as we navigate the future of that area of unincorporated Forsyth.” She added being hopeful of sharing something “more definitive” to council soon.

In other business, the council:

• Heard from Adam Cardwell, representing the Jerry Long Family YMCA, who asked the council for permission for the use of the Village Point Greenway on the morning of Saturday, June 23, for the Dirty Dozen 5K race.

• Heard from planner Megan Ledbetter that work on easement agreements for the Tanglewood/U.S. 158 sidewalk project is nearly complete, followed by going to DOT for right-of-way certification, then to construction authorization and bidding the project “hopefully this summer.”

• Received a list of applicants for citizen board opportunities to fill several upcoming vacancies on various boards. There are 23 applicants for the Planning Board, 17 for the new Ad-hoc Transportation Committee, 14 for the Zoning Board of Adjustment and 10 for Stormwater Advisory Board.

• Heard from Ford in her marketing report that the next “Coffee with a Cop” will be Tuesday, June 19, from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Chick-fil-A in Clemmons.