Town Budget Rises 18.4%, No Property Tax Increase - TribPapers

Town Budget Rises 18.4%, No Property Tax Increase

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay.

Weaverville – At its April meeting, the Weaverville Town Council unveiled its 2023-2024 budget for the next fiscal year. The new budget is just over $9.5 million. The budget for the new year marks an 18.4% increase from the current budget of just over $8 million but holds the line on increasing taxes except for a request of one cent per $100 in the fire tax and a 4% increase in water rates. Is also includes salary increases for the mayor and council members.

Before the council heard about the new budget, it conducted other business. The first order of business after a call to order and approval of the meeting’s agenda was to hold three public hearings. The first was for water system development fees. The second was for an annexation agreement between Woodfin and Weaverville for Woodfin to annex 192 acres on Elk Mountain Scenic Hwy. The third was for changes to the town’s code amendments for nonconforming lots, table ofndimensional requirements, and mapping standards. None of the hearings received any comments from the public.

The council then approved the consent agenda, which included an annual presentation of town manager delegated policies, adoption of a records retention and disposition schedule, policies for spending American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, and a water commitment renewal for 60 Ollie Weaver Road, along with Planning Board appointments.

Weaverville Town Manager Selena Coffey then gave her manager’s report.
She reported that the fire department submitted a grant application for 75 bike helmets for the community’s children. The town received that grant,
and will host an event for distributing the helmets in the coming months.

She also told the board a new Duke Energy district manager had taken over. Jennifer Bennett has assumed the role as Duke Energy’s District Manager of the Asheville Area, which includes Avery, Buncombe, Haywood, Madison, Mitchell, and Yancey. She also notified the board of the town’s Arbor Day program held on Friday at Lake Louise, where two trees were planted, and that the town had received a grant for a feasibility study to link Woodfin and Weaverville greenways.

With no public comment, the council moved to action and discussion items, with the first being a presentation from Phil Barnett of the Weaverville Economic Development Advisory Committee, who gave an update and review of economic development goals, one of which was to no longer try and attract large businesses to the town but only small ones. They also want to try and develop co-working facilities with churches in the town, where the church’s educational facilities could be used by businesses currently working from home. 

He also asked two things of the board, one, the board fund the committee $5,000 to support future events, and a QR code images for QR code information stations to offer residents and tourists a history of the town by using the QR code stations. He also wanted to come back before the board next month when the committee has had a chance to update its mission statement. 

Councilman Doug Jackson asked how income from the co-working facilities would affect the church’s tax status. Barnett said it shouldn’t have any effect.

Next, there were a series of votes to expand the town’s water treatment center. All three passed, but Councilman Andrew Nagle initially asked if the board would vote on all three at once because he didn’t plan on voting the same way on the three. He ultimately voted no on all of them, but the measures still passed.

The board voted unanimously for the annexation agreement with Woodfin on the Sourwood Inn area.

When the vote on the code amendments, the discussion centered on the nonconforming lot size, specifically what could be put there, such as a modular or manufactured home, and the difference between the two. Councilwoman Catherine Cordell injected tiny homes into the discussion. Eller said there was nothing in the code that would dictate the size of the home. The code amendments passed without any objections. 

Coffey then presented her FY2023-24 budget to the board. In addition to the increase of 18.4%, the town employee insurance initially came in at a 41% increase over last year but has been negotiated down to 17%. “Without a doubt, our employee medical insurance is one of the most difficult issues we deal with annually,” said Coffey. “There will be adjustments we need to make as we go forward.”

Among other things, Coffey also recommends an increase in pay for the mayor of $7,800 annually (up $3,600) and $4,800 for council members (up $1,800). Her budget includes a two percent increase in pay for employees. Coffey also recommends three new police officers and a records and evidence specialist for the police department. The budget also includes a planner/GIS technician and a part-time assistant at the community center. A request for three new firefighters Coffey said was still being looked at by herself and the fire chief. The budget hearing will be held at the May town council meeting. 

In his planning report, Town Planner James Eller said that a stand-alone Starbucks is come to Publix’s parking on Weaver Blvd.