City Council budget keeps tax rate

First Posted: 6/15/2010

LUMBERTON The Lumberton City Council on Monday passed a 2010-11 fiscal budget that maintains the tax rate, but one councilman opposed, saying that city employees deserve a raise and taxpayers deserve a break.
The tax rate will remain at 63 cents for every $100 of property, but most property owners will pay more because of higher values that followed revaluation. The $77 million budget slashes spending by about $3.8 million over the current fiscal year.
Councilman Jackie Taylor argued for a 2 percent cost-of-living increase for employees, and a 1-cent drop in the tax rate.
We should be improving the quality of life for city employees, but it has not been improved, Taylor said. They deserve a raise, because they work hard and are dedicated.
Taylor wanted a 2 percent cost-of-living increase because there was no raise for the current fiscal year. Taylor said some city employees had to drop their health insurance because they could no longer afford the premiums.
Taylor also suggested wanted a 1-cent decrease in the property tax rate. Property values are estimated to have climbed 9 to 12 percent because of revaluation.
As an example, the owner of a home valued at $90,000 now pays $567 in taxes. If the home were revalued at $98,100, an 9 percent increase, the owner would pay $618.03, a $51.03 increase.
City Manager Wayne Horne said after the meeting that cost-of-living adjustments are not a one-time bonus. He said a 2 percent increase would cost the city $432,578 for city employee salaries and benefits for a year, and that expense would carry over into future budgets. He said a 1-cent drop in the tax rate would cost the city about $130,000 in revenue.
The revaluation is expected to generate about $750,000 in new revenue, but Horne said the money is needed to compensate for the 9.2 percent increase in city employees health insurance, as well as a 2 percent increase in the citys contribution to the states retirement system.
Also in the budget is the replacement of 19 2002 and 2004 police vehicles using a five-year purchase plan at $97,712 per year. The budget doesnt include any major capital projects and includes a hiring freeze.
As part of its consent agenda, the council:
Agreed to participate in a state Department of Transportation project that will add a left-hand turn lane in the southbound lane of Fayetteville Road at Roberts Avenue.
Denied Lennie Locklears offer to sell a 0.09-acre parcel to the city for $1,000. The city has had a lift station on the property since 1973.
Denied Doris Zimmermans request to close an alleyway behind her home between Seventh and Eighth streets.
Approved Police Chief Mike McNeills request to designate a 25-mph speed limit for Roger Street.
Referred to the Planning Board Scott Bigelow’s application to rezone property at 1405 15th St. and 213 14th St. from B-3, Office Residential, to R-7, Residential Single Family/Duplex.
Approved the final plat for an addition of three lots to Amberdale Village.
Sent to the Planning Board for review a request from Johnlock Enterprises Inc. for a conditional-use permit for a game center at 3467 Lackey St., a request for a conditional-use permit for property located on 325 E. Elizabethtown Road for a game center, and a request from Fayek Allan for conditional-use permit for property located on 2017 W. Fifth St. for a game center.
Sent to the Planning Department a request from Jerry and Kimberly Oxendine for a conditional-use permit for property located on 3491 Lackey St. for a game center.
Sent to the Planning Board a request from D.S. & E.M. Investments Inc. for a conditional-use permit that it needs for a major commercial subdivision on Roberts Avenue.
Approved the Police Department’s request to apply for the Edward Byrne JAG Grant for $45,877 for equipment, training and travel.
Denied a request made by Robeson Health Care Corporation to allow mental health services in the B-2/B-2H zoning districts.
Authorized City Attorney Thomas Powers to prepare the necessary paperwork to relinquish a right-of-way in the Meadow Brook Cemetery.
Directed the City Clerk Laney Mitchell-McIntosh to investigate a request from B.G. French to annex property located on Meadow Road into the city.
Approved a $500 donation from Councilman Don Metzgers discretionary fund to repair a sign at Wycliffe Subdivision.
Approved $950 of discretionary money for Billie’s Basketball Camp.
Approved Councilman John Canteys request that $350 of his discretionary money be donated to a community watch group.
Approved $150 of Canteys discretionary money for community watch in Turner Park.
Approved $280 of Wyatt Johnsons discretionary money for a handicap rail at 230 Meadow Road.
Approved $100 of Robert Jones discretionary money for community watch in Turner Terrace and $100 for Hayswood Hut.

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