Apex budget reflects growth

snagem@newsobserver.comJuly 2, 2014 

— The Town Council has adopted a budget that holds the property tax rate steady and reflects Apex’s growth.

The tax rate will remain at 39 cents per $100 of property valuation during the fiscal year that began July 1. The town estimates that Apex will see a total tax base of about $4.9 billion – 4.5 percent higher than last year.

The council approved a nearly $39 million general fund budget last month. The fund represents an increase of $2.9 million, or 8.1 percent from last year’s budget.

More homes, more money

Apex has seen an increase in the number of homes being built. Town officials have said they expect to see 811 residential units in 2014. That compares with 492 in 2009, during the economic downturn.

In 2013, town leaders approved 742 residential units.

Because of the growth, Apex expects to collect $815,000 more in property taxes this year compared to last year.

Building permit fees are expected to increase by about $350,000, or 78 percent.

Sales tax receipts are also expected increase by $775,000 – a jump of 11 percent from last year’s projection.

Planned projects

The town plans to spend $1 million to resurface and repair streets. The budget sets aside $542,000 to replace or add town vehicles, including police cars.

A sidewalk is planned for Salem Street from N.C. 55 to Apex Peakway and for Crocketts Ridge to Evans Road along Apex Barbecue Road. The total cost is $471,000.

The budget also includes $683,500 to buy about 5 acres of land from Wake County behind Fire Station 3. The Town Council decided to delay the purchase of the land so members could get more information, said Town Manager Bruce Radford.

Eventually, the space could be used to expand the fire station and to accommodate outdoor training exercises.

New staff

The budget includes funding for eight new staff positions – code enforcement officer; construction inspector; fire training coordinator; two police lieutenants; victim advocate with the police department; environmental specialist; and street maintenance worker.

The total cost of the additional personnel is about $537,000.

Apex recently hired its first economic development director to help lure new businesses to town. Joanna Helms has 20 years of experience in economic development.

Some elected leaders in Apex have said the town needs more commercial growth to shift some of the tax burden away from property owners.

Savings account

Apex will have a fund balance of $13.4 million. That’s 37.1 percent of the town’s annual operating expenses.

The N.C. Local Government Commission requires North Carolina municipalities to maintain a fund balance of at least 8 percent of expenses. Apex’s policy calls for a 25 percent minimum.

School crossing guard

Apex will hire a part-time crossing guard at Olive Chapel Elementary School.

Some parents said the school needs a crossing guard to help students navigate the busy streets nearby.

Three elementary schools in Apex already have crossing guards.

Higher fee for trash, recycling

While residents won’t pay more for property taxes, they will pay a a few extra pennies for trash and recycling.

The monthly cost to have trash, recycling and yard waste collected will increase from $16.15 to $16.33.

Businesses will Dumpsters will also pay a little more.

The original proposed budget called for a 3 percent increase to water and sewer rates. The average customer who uses 5,000 gallons of water and sewer a month would have paid an additional $1.97.

But the Town Council opted against the fee hike.

Nagem: 919-460-2605; Twitter: @BySarahNagem

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