Spencer’s recommended FY 2025 budget invests in critical services

May 10, 2024

Public Hearing scheduled for June 6 Board of Aldermen pre-agenda meeting

Watch the recommended budget presentation here.

SPENCER – Town Manager Peter Franzese has recommended the fiscal year 2024-25 budget to the Spencer Mayor and Board of Aldermen. The proposed budget for FY25 totals $5,871,288 with $5,389,806 in the General Fund, $154,971 in the Powell Bill Fund and $326,511 in the Capital Reserve and Replacement Fund. The recommended property tax rate is 62 cents per $100 of valuation, an increase from the current rate of 55 cents.

In January, the Board of Aldermen approved six new full-time Fire positions and prioritized fully funding them in the FY25 budget, understanding the need for a corresponding tax rate increase. Diminished sales tax growth and effort to rely less on Fund Balance appropriations were also factors in the recommended budget.

Mindful of the impact on community members, Franzese described how several adjustments in the Town’s revenues are necessary to sustain service delivery. Other proposed revenue adjustments include adding a $10 municipal vehicle tax and a small increase to the Solid Waste collection fee.

Based on an estimated 2,600 vehicles, a $10 vehicle tax would generate $13,000 in unrestricted revenue, and $13,000 dedicated to road infrastructure maintenance. The recommended Solid Waste fee adjustment would change the monthly fee from $15 to $18 for residents, and from $25 to $30 for commercial customers. This would support the high level of collection services enjoyed by Spencer residents and offset increasing fuel and disposal costs, while minimizing the impact on other taxpayers who do not receive the Town’s collection services.

The revenue from these two adjustments nearly equals the value of 1.5 cents on the tax rate. For comparison purposes, the change in collection fees and vehicle tax would cost an owner of property valued at $275,000 and two vehicles about $56 more per year. This is almost entirely offset by a savings of $45 in property (ad valorem home and vehicle) taxes from the rate that would be required to bring in the same overall revenue. With a combined property tax, vehicle tax, and solid waste fee increase of about $202 annually for the typical property owner (average assessed value of $187,392), the net impact of these changes is roughly $16 per month, or less than $4 per week.

In recent years, the Town has significantly invested in staff as well as critical community facilities and equipment, while aggressively pursuing grants to fund major capital projects. The proposed FY25 budget accommodates prioritized new positions while continuing to reward the Town’s talented staff with competitive compensation and benefits. The budget includes the third of 30 annual debt service payments for the $2.8 million USDA loan (Town Hall and Police Department) and the first of ten payments for the Town’s new garbage truck. Also included is a down payment for the fire truck that has been ordered, which will reduce the amount financed for 20 years beginning in FY26.

FY25 is the third and final year of Spencer’s use of American Rescue Plan State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF), provided to state and local governments for the purpose of responding to negative economic impacts stemming from COVID-19. The Town of Spencer’s allocation was just over $1 million. The Town developed a spending plan based on feedback from the community, staff, and elected officials. The resulting project ideas were funded not with the SLFRF allocation itself, but rather through the “supplanted” or ARPA-enabled funds created by the revenue replacement model. The FY25 budget includes $225,000 to cover staff salaries for the coming fiscal year, thereby freeing the same amount in local tax dollars for the down payment on the new Fire truck. Other key recommendations include:

  • Fully funding six new full-time Fire positions phasing in between April and June of 2024.
  • One additional full-time Police position, to improve overnight Police staffing and supervision.
  • One new recreation position, to activate park facilities with programming and events.
  • Continuing to invest in recruiting and retaining talent with a competitive compensation plan.
  • Continuing support of local tourism and events, including marketing support for the North Carolina Transportation Museum and sponsorship of Spencer’s Winterfest.
  • Continuing and expanding the development of public art, mostly through grant funding.
  • A risk-reduction and policy update/training platform for Fire and Police staff, which may allow future reductions in liability insurance rates.
  • Administering the $75,000 NC Commerce Building Reuse Grant for Cabarrus-Rowan Community Health Center’s North Rowan Clinic expansion project.
  • Grant matching funds to design Carter House recreation facility improvements.
  • Modest vehicle and equipment replacement.

The proposed budget includes the use of approximately $184,000 from the General Fund Balance. This number is derived from the expected Fund Balance increase of at least $100,000 at the end of FY24 and adding to it an additional modest amount out of the existing undesignated balance.

The Town has established a Capital Replacement and Reserve Fund to plan for the replacement and purchase of new capital assets. The proposed budget includes designating about $273,000 of Fund Balance for capital and using it to provide the funding needed for recommended capital expenditures.

Franzese noted the focus on providing an excellent product to the community members investing in the Town’s services, and the commitment to managing public dollars with good stewardship.

A budget workshop opportunity is planned for a recessed meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21 in Town Hall. A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 6 (pre-Agenda meeting). Interested individuals can view the Town Manager’s recommended budget at spencernc.gov and in print in the Town Hall lobby.

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