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City Council set to wrestle with budget

City manager: ‘No choice but some type of tax increase’

SARAH LOWERY
Staff Writer

The Lincolnton City Council will conduct its second work session in recent weeks on City Manager Jeff Emory’s proposed 2012-2013 budget tonight.
Most recently, Emory presented an “official budget message” to council members during their regular meeting on May 3.
“While I know it is not popular, I believe the city will have no choice but to consider some type of tax increase in the near future,” he wrote in the message. “We provide a high level of services to our citizens, and I know no one wants that to end. I just do not know how we are going to keep up with the rising cost of doing business, with no additional revenue.”
Emory also stipulated that the proposed operating budget for the next fiscal year is more than $28 million and outlined the five major funds, which include the general fund, the water and sewer fund, the electric fund, the occupancy tax fund and the Powell Bill fund.
“The proposed budget contains no reductions in municipal services,” he wrote. “This is the one item I am most proud of regarding the proposed budget.”
During tonight’s work session, the council is expected to take action on proposed changes to the city’s Wellness Plan, as presented at the May 3 meeting by Human Resource Director Tina Hurdt. At the time, the council delayed taking action on it and, instead, requested feedback from city employees regarding the plan.
The council previously met on April 16 to receive a general overview of the budget and to highlight the key items to be discussed in the coming weeks while finalizing next year’s financing.
It was also at this meeting that Emory told the council that he expected this would be the toughest budget year since he’s been in Lincolnton. And he stressed that revenues were not keeping up with demands.
During the discussion, council members weighed city employee benefits, an intersection-improvement project at N.C. 150 and N.C. 27 and matching grants for improvements to the Lincolnton-Lincoln County Regional Airport.
They also decided to request a business plan be provided to them showing the airport’s tangible benefits and ability to produce profit before making a decision regarding the funding, with some members suggesting walking away from it and leaving it to the county.
Before the final budget is adopted, additional work sessions will be scheduled and a public hearing will be conducted to receive input from citizens. The state mandates it be passed by July 1.
Tonight’s meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall and is open to the public.

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