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Zebulon approves budget, nonprofit funding

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ZEBULON — The Zebulon Board of Commissioners approved a budget for next fiscal year Monday with one commissioner voting against it.

The $13.5 million budget is more conservative than previous years due to the effects of COVID-19 on the town’s revenues, according to Town Manager Joe Moore.

The tax rate will be 55 cents per $100 assessed property value. This is slightly above the town’s revenue-neutral rate of 54.3 cents and 4.2 cents less than the current tax rate.

The town will no longer charge a stormwater fee as part of its monthly water and sewer bill. Instead, it will pay for the cost of stormwater with the property tax.  

Like most municipalities, Zebulon is expecting a slight decline in its property tax collection rate.

The vehicle fee will be $30.

The police department has an operating budget of $2.4 million while the fire department has an operating budget of $1.5 million. The public works operations department has an operating budget of $1.7 million.

Revenues will include $1.9 million appropriated from the fund balance, which serves as a savings account for the town.

Operating and capital expenditures are expected to increase while the town’s debt load will drop to $574,600.  

The operating expenses also include a statewide increase in retirement contribution, contracting out park maintenance, special event funding and more. Capital projects include the fire station design, street resurfacing, construction on the North Arendell sidewalk project and more. It also includes three traffic signals, but Moore does not expect all three to be completed during the fiscal year.

The recommended operating budget does not include eight positions that departments requested be added to the payrolls.

Commissioner Shannon Baxter was concerned about not funding those positions, specifically ones in the police and fire departments.

A patrol officer may be able to be funded mid-year due to officers retiring, Moore said when he presented the budget in May.

Commissioner Beverly Clark made the motion to approve the budget, which Commissioner Larry Loucks seconded. It passed 4-1, with Baxter voting against.

The board also voted to distribute funding to seven nonprofit organizations. The East Wake Education Foundation, InterAct and Preservation Zebulon each received $1,000 while Dew4Him Ministries, Miss Zebulon, the Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast Committee and Share His Glory each received $500. Total funding was $5,000.

Loucks made the motion to approve the funding, which Mayor Pro Tem Glenn York seconded. It passed unanimously.

The board also approved five budget amendments to reconcile the 2019-20 budget to what was actually spent. This is routinely done by municipalities, especially toward the end of the fiscal year, which is June 30.

These included expenditures related to COVID-19, reimbursement from Wake County for six sets of fire turnout gear and transferring a greenway impact fee to reserves.