Summerfield reveals $1.82 million draft budget

Three more chances to offer your input during public meetings 

By Kevin Spradlin
PiedmontPostNC.com

* Proposed budget

SUMMERFIELD — There were no major surprises as members of the Town of Summerfield’s Finance Committee saw the first draft of the draft budget for Fiscal Year 2019, which begins July 1.

The group met for approximately one hour and 45 minutes during a public meeting Monday at Town Hall.

With a plan to spend $1,825,234.02, the tax rate would remain the same — 2.75 cents per $100 of property valuation — and the budget would require a fund balance appropriation of $569,725.02 if all of the projects and expenses come to fruition.

Kevin Spradlin | PiedmontPostNC.com Members of the Town of Summerfield Finance Committee met Monday night at Town Hall to discuss the Fiscal Year 2019 proposed budget. Members include, from bottom left (clockwise): Finance Officer Dee Hall; Millie Hoffler-Foushee, committee chair; member Wendel Parks; member Vicky Bridges; Mayor Gail Dunham; member Christine Henson; and Town Manager Scott Whitaker, who is the statutory budget officer for the Town of Summerfield and assistance finance officer.

Kevin Spradlin | PiedmontPostNC.com
Members of the Town of Summerfield Finance Committee met Monday night at Town Hall to discuss the Fiscal Year 2019 proposed budget. Members include, from bottom left (clockwise): Finance Officer Dee Hall; Millie Hoffler-Foushee, committee chair; member Wendel Parks; member Vicky Bridges; Mayor Gail Dunham; member Christine Henson; and Town Manager Scott Whitaker, who is the statutory budget officer for the Town of Summerfield and assistance finance officer.

The proposed budget marks a significant decrease from the budget approved for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. As amended, the current year’s budget is slightly more than $2.5 million. Town Manager Scott Whitaker explained that the large decrease is because Town Council has put major capital projects, such as the restoration of the R.C. Gordon Hardware Building and the Alexander Strong Martin House.

The draft budget is just that, and nothing is set in stone. There are three more chances for members of the public to weigh in on budget-related issues: May 10, May 31 and June 12. The council is expected to adopt a budget during its June 12 public meeting.

“Just like your home finances, you don’t go into your savings account and pay your electric bill,” Hall said.

Fund balances are reserved for larger projects, Hall said.

“Another thing … we will only go into the fund balance if we spend 100 percent of this budget.”

That seems unlikely, Hall said. In the last budget, the town dipped into its fund balance for roughly $46,000 even though nearly $500,000 had been budgeted.

“It all depends on how the numbers end up,” Hall said.

How those numbers end up in FY 2019 depends, in part, on how Mayor Gail Dunham and members of the Town Council modify the draft budget over the next two months.

What’s included – expenses

The draft budget includes:

* $200,000 for a parking lot at Summerfield Community Park near Schoolhouse Lake. Currently there is a gravel lot, and town officials have expressed concern about park visitors’ experience during inclement weather as well as erosion.

* $100,000 for a sidewalk to serve as a connector between the town and the A&Y Greenway, from the U.S. 220 pedestrian tunnel to Summerfield Road. Jason Webster, a member of the town’s Trails and Open Space Committee, made the request during last week’s Town Council meeting. He said the connector would allow the tunnel to be used instead of barricaded by a chainlink fence, and would address safety concerns of trail users attempting to walk or cycle along U.S. 220 until the greenway is constructed through town. Currently, that construction isn’t to occur until 2024. The sidewalk, meanwhile, would be built possibly as soon as this year. The $100,000 includes an estimated $50,000 for construction, plus enough for design and engineering, with a little left over just in case.

* $100,000 for a shelter at Summerfield Athletic Park;

* $20,000 for top-dressing the playing fields at Summerfield Athletic Park

* $65,000 for legal services through town attorney Bill Hill. Hall said the town has paid Hill nearly $47,000 during the current budget year, which doesn’t end until June 30, and only $50,000 was budgeted. Hall said she expected to present a budget amendment at a council meeting in the near future. Town Manager Scott Whitaker said the town has spent less in each of the past five years in legal fees — until this year.

“We’ve got a lot more council involvement with the attorney right now,” Whitaker said.

Hall said town policy requires the town attorney to review every public records request. That might be a policy worth revising.

“We know what is legal to give out and what is not,” Hall said of town staff.

Hill is not on retainer. Instead, he charges $185 per hour and bills in five-minute increments. Every email and every phone call he receives, Whitaker said, “the clock is ticking.”

Dunham, though, seemed to feel the additional cost was justified.

“We have legal actions here,” Dunham said. “He has to be involved.”

* $14,250 for the annual audit. The figure represents a 29.5 percent increase from the amount approved in the amended budget for this year. Whitaker explained that the accounting firm, Gibson & Company, of Winston-Salem, expected increased involvement from members of the council since members have been so divided.

The firm’s partners had a “fear of extra council involvement this coming year,” Whitaker said.

Whitaker said recent statements made by members of the public, as documented in local media accounts, made the accounts “gun shy.”

Finance Committee member Wendel Parks called the increase “ridiculous.”

Fellow committee member Christine Henson suggested Hall and Whitaker go back to Gibson and get a revised proposal for services based on what is considered normal council involvement, and a tiered proposal based on escalations in council members’ involvement.

 

 

 

Filed in: Featured News, Latest Headlines, News, Summerfield

You might like:

GAP program fills a hole for ‘hands-on’ experience GAP program fills a hole for ‘hands-on’ experience
Sit back for an ‘interesting story’ Sit back for an ‘interesting story’
Cash available for crime-solving tips Cash available for crime-solving tips
Rotruck sues Town of Summerfield Rotruck sues Town of Summerfield
© 2018 The Piedmont Post. All rights reserved. XHTML / CSS Valid.