WENDELL — The leaders of Wendell are not raising taxes this year.
Instead, town staff juggled revenues, jobs and giant recycling bins to overcome a $423,000 revenue shortfall and produce a balanced, $5.1 million budget that was presented to the board of commissioners Monday.
“Finance Director Butch Kay and myself have been working every day to try and find every dollar that we can,” Town Manager Teresa Piner said.
The commissioners will vote on the draft budget at their June 10 meeting.
A public hearing will be held during the 7 p.m. May 28 meeting.
With operating expenses, capital improvements and debt service accounted for, the board canceled a budget work session scheduled for Monday, May 20.
The budget plan does not increase the tax rate or solid waste fees. Property taxes will remain 49 cents per $100, which Piner said equates to $857.50 on a $175,000 home. Each penny of the tax rate produces about $43,326 in revenue. The budget anticipates slightly less than $2.1 million in those tax revenues. Another $989,000 is expected from the local option sales tax.
The board avoided increasing the $22 solid waste fees $1.50 a month by changing recycling pickup to every other week and providing residents larger, 96-gallon bins. Regular garbage pickup will remain weekly. An updated contract must be approved by the board. About $501,000 in fees and charges is budgeted.
Among other items from the proposed budget and Piner’s presentation:
• Town staff pared the operating budget by 4.52 percent.
• The town may have to delay its wayfinding signage program.
• The planned replacement of three police cars will not take place.
• Wendell will continue to pay for a regional express bus service to Raleigh provided by Triangle Transit. The weekday service will cost slightly less at $12,500.
• Four jobs will be left vacant: two in the Police Department and one each in Planning and Public Works.
• Town staff will not receive cost of living allowances or merit raises; a salary review is planned for January.
• Also left out of the budget are funds for potential repairs for heating and cooling systems, computers and cars and for building repairs such as leaky roofs.
• The Public Works Department will put off some street repairs and curb and gutter repairs and will use smaller work crews.
• Parks and recreation will raise rental fees, cut the number of games for youth leagues, trim hours of operation and reduce part-time employees and officials.
To generate revenue, the board doubled the vehicle decal fee to $10. The increase is expected to generate about $18,000.
Like many municipalities, Wendell is waiting to see what will become of a revenue stream called privilege license fees, which are annual fees charged to businesses. Senate Bill 658 in the state legislature may eliminate local governments’ ability to charge the fees. If the legislature does not revoke the privilege license, Mayor Pro Tem Ira Fuller suggested that the money be put in the general fund contingency.