Town officials will kick off budget season with 5-year capital plan

sbarr@newsobserver.comMarch 18, 2014 

The town commissioners will consider a five-year capital improvement plan Tuesday that will help set priorities for the upcoming budget season.

The town updates the plan annually, and it serves as a guide for which major projects officials expect to undertake during the next five years.

Each project comes with a price tag, but their inclusion in the plan doesn’t automatically they’ll be funded. Officials prepare and vote on a separate budget each year for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

During Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners session, residents can offer their input during a public hearing, and the board could vote as soon as that evening on the plan.

One of the biggest ticket items for 2014-15 in this latest edition of the capital improvements plan is $2.2 million for a new fire station, with $1.75 million dedicated to construction and $450,000 for equipment.

The fire station would be built at the intersection of Jenkins Road and Fullard Drive, west of Capital Boulevard. The plan for the station drew fierce criticism from a small group of neighbors last year who were concerned about how it would affect their quality of life and property values.

The commissioners voted unanimously to approve the special use permit that would allow the station to move forward.

The capital costs of the new station would be paid for by town impact fees for fire service, loans and funding from Wake County, according to the capital improvements plan. The new station would serve both Wake Forest residents and county residents.

But the fire department still must find a way to pay for the $750,000 operations costs of the new station, including staffing. The fire department is expected to seek a tax increase to pay that portion of the costs. Preliminary projections call for a property tax increase of 2 cents, according to the plan.

The department right now receives 10 cents from the town’s 51-cent property tax rate.

Town manager Mark Williams said that in the past, when the fire department has sought a tax increase, the commissioners have held a separate meeting to discuss the proposal, and the board indicated they would do so again this year.

Mayor Vivian Jones also said that as the fire department’s costs increase, officials should make sure they know just what they’re getting. While the board has access to the fire department’s budget, it is separate from the town’s budget.

"I’m starting to think that if we’re spending this much money, we need to have more control over how it’s spent," she said.

Barr: 919-836-4952

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