Spencer administration presents $3.8 million budget

Published 12:05 am Sunday, May 30, 2021

SPENCER — Town Manager Peter Franzese on Thursday presented a recommended $3.8 million budget to board of aldermen with no tax changes.

Franzese presented the document during a called meeting. The presentation began the public comment period on the recommended budget. The aldermen will hold a budget workshop on the document June 3 and a public hearing on June 8.

The focus areas for the budget include vintage sign restoration, trail plans for the Wil-Cox Bridge area, construction of the town’s upcoming municipal facility based in the former Park Plaza, fire insurance standard rating, administering a $750,000 Community Block Development Grant and updating the town’s comprehensive plan.

Franzese told the board sales tax revenue, which was initially expected to be down due to the pandemic, was better than expected. The recommended budget includes $927,700 in sales tax revenue compared to $728,678 adopted in the previous year’s budget.

Franzese commended the board on filling out the town’s administrative staff in the previous year and adopting a pay plan, noting this budget will complete that implementation.

The budget recommended establishing a capital reserve fund containing $300,000 to $400,000 from the town’s savings to dedicate to capital projects and a special revenue fund for the $950,000 in federal aid the town is receiving from the American Rescue Plan and the block development grant.

Franzese said the federal rescue funding is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and the town has to create a plan for using the funding.

The town will reallocate a vacant lieutenant position in the police department and add an additional position, which would bring the number of officers on the town’s two patrol squads to four. The budget also includes $9,000 for town-issued cell phones for officers, citing the measure as more cost-effective than providing stipends and $49,100 for a new patrol vehicle.

The budget also includes more part-time staff for the fire department so there will be a paid responder on duty during the early evening. There is also a $90,000 item to establish a fund for expanding the fire station.

The budget recommends beginning a vintage sign restoration program funded at $5,000 as well as $20,000 to be split evenly between grants for improving storefronts and grants for historic preservation of local homes.

The budget includes $160,000 in debt service for the new administrative building to be paid to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is financing the project. That will be an annual expenditure for the town for 30 years.

The most expensive department is police, at $1.24 million, followed by administration at $805,257. The police budget includes code enforcement operations. Administration includes the former land management department. The total expenditure for personnel is $2.33 million. The property tax rate is still 65.5 cents per 100 dollars in valuation.

Franzese recommended appropriating $278,244 to the town’s fund balance for the coming year.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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