Fire, police and utility needs dominated discussion of the second of two workshops on the town’s proposed 2020-21 fiscal year budget last week.
A day earlier, Town Manager Randy Hemann presented the recommended $126.5 million fiscal year 2020-21 balanced budget to the Mooresville Board of Commissioners and department heads. The proposed budget maintains the current property tax rate of 58 cents per valuation and does not increase water or sewer rates.
To comply with Gov. Roy Cooper’s social distancing order, only 10 town employees were allowed in the meeting room with staff rotating in and out during presentations, said town Public Information Officer Kim Sellers. The meeting was live-streamed online.
The budget’s General Fund covers the operational activities of general government, public safety, transportation, environmental protection and culture and recreation. Primary revenue sources are ad valorem, or property taxes, state-shared revenues, sales taxes, permits and fees. Totaling $70.8 million, the proposed budget’s General Fund decreased 6.2 percent compared to last year’s amount of $75.5 million.
Reasons for this decrease in the General Fund include the town’s sale of the telecommunications company Continuum and planned capital projects, Hemann said. The proposed budget also reflects a reduction of approximately 20% below actual sales tax revenues projected to be collected in fiscal year 2020 due to the COVID-19 epidemic.
Mooresville Fire Rescue Chief Curt Deaton asked the town to fund several staff positions with his department, the design of Fire Station 7 and the replacement of three staff/support vehicles.
The six firefighter positions and one battalion chief position Deaton requested will help the department’s staffing crunch but not entirely solve current staffing problems, when Fire Station 6 opens and when current firefighters retire, deploy for military service or take leave, Deaton said.
Hemann told the board the number of calls for emergency service have outpaced the town’s population growth and increased from 4,118 annually to 7,497 annually over the past five years. As the town grows, strains on Fire and Rescue begin to show not when the first call comes in but when multiple calls come in around the same time, Deaton said.
Fire Station 6, planned to be built at N.C. 801 and Manufacturer's Boulevard at the East Mooresville Business Park, is not under construction yet and Deaton said he will need 12 firefighters to open that station. Just getting Fire Station 6 to the point it is at currently took nearly three years and Deaton hoped to jumpstart plans for Fire Station 7 in the proposed budget. Station 7 will possibly be located in the Langtree area near Alcove Road and it would be detrimental to wait on design plans based on the growth that area has already seen, he said. He has requested $292,000 for Station 7’s design.
“We wait five, six years, we’re so far behind,” Deaton said. “All I’m wanting to do is come up with a design, give the board some options and get a solution up.”
Mooresville Police Chief Ron Campurciani asked the town to fund the hiring of two additional police telecommunicators to help with the increased responsibilities of not just answering calls but running license plate checks and warrants from traffic officers. Campurciani also said he thought it was “imperative” to reclassify a police detective position to a police sergeant to help lead the department’s narcotic unit. Another request in the budget for the police department is an on-call legal consultation service officers could call for advice which is important especially since the COVID-19 epidemic has begun, Campurciani said. He also requested the creation of a department policies and procedures manual to accompany the CALEA accreditation process the department currently follows.
The police chief also requested $317,000 for the second year rollout of new Axon body/car cameras. The body and in-car cameras currently in use are starting to fail even though the system in place was not that old, he said. “We’re not getting the mileage out of it that we should,” Campurciani said. The new Axon system is cloud-based and will be easier for officers and even the District Attorney to be able to find video more efficiently, he said.
After the General Fund, the Utilities Fund makes up the next largest portion, or just over a quarter percent, of the budget. Public Utilities Director Allison Kraft said there would likely be no water or sewer rate increase for the next five years. A water and waste water comprehensive master plan has been approved and will give the department a road map for future projects to try and stay ahead of development and growth, Kraft said.
Hemann will likely present the proposed budget to the Board of Commissioners at its next virtual meeting Monday, May 18.
No date has been set for a public hearing or when the Board of Commissioners could vote on the budget.
A budget must be approved by the board by June 30.
Here are presentation highlights from the public safety, utilities, stormwater and public services departments.
» Police Administration: $13.1 million, up $499,221 from last year
» Two police tele-communicator positions request
» Reclassification of a police detective to a police sergeant
» Custodian position moved to park services department
» Axon body/in-car camera and taser replacements (year two of five)
» Fire Suppression: $10.9 million, down $299,367 from last year
» Three firefighter positions
» Replacement of three staff/support vehicles
» Design of Fire Station 7
» Water Sewer Administration: $20.4 million, up $1.9 million from last year
» Meter Reading: $832,567, down $210,390 from last year
» Line Maintenance: $3.6 million, down $2.5 million from last year
» Pump Maintenance: $2.4 million, up $953,994 from last year
» Water Treatment: $3.2 million, up $363,299 from last year
» Wastewater Treatment: $4.1 million, up $483,493 from last year
» Transfer to Wiggins Road pump station and pipelines project
» Reduction in capital requests and meter and ERTS purchases
» Hydraulic boring rig and Bobcat Skidsteer
» Replacement of crane truck, Northside pump station bar screen, South Iredell pump station bar screen and wet well rehab, Reed Creek wet well rehab
» Requested position — water treatment plant operator trainee
» Filter rehab at Plant II
» Fencing and access gate at Plaza Drive and Exit 33 tanks
» Replacement skid steer, process modeling study, hopper cover, clarifier resurfacing and rehab, effluent filter disk replacement
» Stormwater: $1.6 million, up $64,824 from last year
» Requested position of maintenance technician II
» Mini excavator
» Mill Village stormwater infrastructure improvements
» Curb and gutter replacements
» Public Service Administration: $1.4 million, down $47,433 from last year
» Engineering: $1.1 million, up $342,947 from last year
» Sanitation: $2.6 million, up $240,055 from last year
» Streets: $5.1 million, up $166,153 from last year
» Fleet Maintenance: $1.1 million, down $114,933 from last year
» Facility Maintenance: $826,024, up $70,507 from last year
» Administrative assistant position moved from Allegiance to direct hire part-time, seal and strip from parking lot at Operations Center
» Traffic study for Langtree Road area, East-West Connector phase II preliminary design, Langtree/N.C. 115 intersection improvements, 50 percent match for widening of Brawley School Road relocated into Board of Commissioners’ budget
» Skidsteer, backhoe, resurfacing program
» Requested positions of sanitation technician and sanitation equipment operator I, replacement side loader and new rear-loader
» Tire machine for heavy side
POWELL BILL (GAS TAX):
» $1.1 million, up $68,599 from last year
» Street resurfacing.