Town Manager Roger Stancil discussed his recommendations for the town budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year to the Chapel Hill Town Council Wednesday. The proposed budget notably includes raising taxes by 3 cents, the first increase in four years.
Stancil acknowledged the significant interest surrounding the increase at the outset of the meeting.
“A 3 cent tax increase tends to get a lot of attention,” Stancil said.
The town manager's proposed budget for all funds in the fiscal year of 2019 is $108.5 million. Although it includes no changes to core services, it does include an increased market salary adjustment for town employees and measures to minimize tax increases, such as an investment in building maintenance programs.
According to Stancil, the planning for this budget is a year-long process, and behind the development is a strong, cohesive team. Stancil said that they were very intentional this year in expanding the group of participants in the budgeting process. He attributed this to his upcoming exit from his role as town manager next year, wanting to ensure that questions about how the budget was formed could be answered and supported.
The 3 cent tax increase recommended by Stancil included 1.2 cents for the general fund, .8 cents for debt service and 1 cent for transit. Brian Litchfield, the transit director for the Town of Chapel Hill, spoke with the council at the meeting about the increase and its goals.
Chapel Hill Transit is the second largest transit system in North Carolina, according to Litchfield, with 204 employees and 117 revenue vehicles. It also has the second largest ridership and revenue hours.
Of transit’s current revised budget of $23.8 million, UNC currently provides 55 percent of local contribution. The University has already committed $8.6 million for the upcoming fiscal year.
Litchfield explained that costs to transit are incurred by bus replacement and development projects. Under the 2018-19 plan, transit aims to develop services like operation on Sundays and address overcrowding on routes.