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Lewisville retains capital projects in budget

By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

Even though it’s hardly business as usual with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Lewisville is keeping several capital projects in its 2020-21 fiscal year budget — including the new Community Center — while still maintaining a conservative approach.

Town Manager Hank Perkins presented a proposed General Fund budget of $4,751,485, which shows a slight increase from the previous year, as adopted July 1, 2019, of $95,160 or 2.04%.

The 2020-21 budget as proposed for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2020, and ending June 30, 2021, is balanced with $230,510 in fund balance from the General Fund with the appropriation representing costs associated with projects that are not recurring operational costs.

Perkins said that this budget reflects the desire of the council to address the town’s needs while being cognizant of current economic conditions.

“The main thing we’ve noticed is a decrease in sales tax expectations for the coming year,” he said. “In addition to running a pretty lean budget, aside for normal services, we will have no reductions in existing services. We decreased one of our capital reserve expenditures to offset the loss of expected revenue for the upcoming year. We want to budget conservatively for the worst case scenario and hope it performs better than expected.”

Perkins said that the town can tap into or pull back on transfers to capital reserve accounts as needed for specific purposes, which provides flexibility. He said that making some contribution changes for capital reserves helped make it possible to balance the 2020-21 budget.

Besides the Community Center, active projects on the list for the proposed budget include the Gateway Project, Great Wagon Road right-of-way/construction, Heritage Drive Regional Storm Water Pond No. 1 project, and the roundabout at Lewisville-Vienna Road and Robinhood Road.

Plans have been ongoing for a 12,000-square-foot facility community center that will be located on a 15-acre tract donated by Mary Alice Warren on Lewisville-Clemmons Road right next to Jack Warren Park.

The Community Center Capital Projects Fund was established last year with financing from the Town’s Municipal Buildings/Land Capital Reserve Fund, installment financing and transfers from the General Fund as necessary.

Early cost estimates for the project are just over $5 million with plans to begin construction in the upcoming fiscal year, possibly as early as October.

In addition, Perkins said that town plans to apply for a $375,000 grant before June 1 from the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) for amenities — including a nature trail, children’s natural playground and space inside the new facility for arts, classes and light recreation — through an expansion of Jack Warren Park and integrating it with the community center.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed,” Perkins said. “It would be a great addition to the park, especially with the new community center.”

Regarding the Gateway Project for road improvements from the U.S. 421 interchange on Williams Road continuing between that interchange and the roundabout at Shallowford and Williams roads, Perkins said that Lewisville will proceed with work despite the DOT not being able to reimburse the town at this time.

“We made the decision to go ahead and complete the ongoing work that was started because we’re almost finished with it, so we decided to finish at least through the current phases we’ve been authorized to do,” said Perkins, who added the town would be reimbursed for that portion in the future.

The project has an estimated cost of $1.5 million utilizing federal STP-DA funds with 80% of the costs being covered and the town providing a 20% match.

The budget, as proposed, includes maintaining the current tax rate of 17.7 cents per $100 of valuation. Perkins said that the three-month lag from the time sales tax is taken from the retailer until the state distributes it to the municipalities and counties means “we really haven’t see the decreases yet that we’re expecting.”

Final adoption of the budget is scheduled for the Council meeting on June 11.

In addition, he said that the town will probably start engaging in a revaluation process in the next year.

Another impact for the town has been for the events season at Shallowford Square with the Memorial Day Military Appreciation Concert featuring the Catalinas being the latest to be canceled because of the coronavirus and restrictions on mass gatherings.

Perkins said that the annual Lewisville Street Party and Food Truck Festival on June 20 and the July 4th celebration — this year without fireworks — are still on the schedule but both are in question depending on how things proceed with the governmental phases and restrictions currently in place.

In other news, longtime Public Works Director George Hauser retired at the end of March after working for the town since January 2001. Ryan Moser has been named the town’s acting Public Works director.

“George was a professional public servant who cared about his job and the service he provided to the residents and businesses of Lewisville,” Perkins said. “We wish him all the best in his retirement.”