Disputed KDH budget adds 2 cents to tax rate
After several years of austerity, the $12.4 million spending package re-instates some frozen positions, including a part-time maintenance and grounds worker, a full time planner and a mechanic in the Fleet Maintenance Division.
It will also allow the town administration to fill a ground maintenance position after an impending retirement. But it eliminates a 2 percent cost-of-living raise for town employees.
The vote was 3-2.
Commissioner Bob Woodard was joined by Paul Buske in objecting to the revised budget. Woodard questioned the addition of previously frozen positions and suggested that Kill Devil Hills had high-level staff positions that other towns did not.
“I can’t agree to growing government any longer,” he said.
Woodard said he would be willing to consider a 1 cent per $100 of valuation tax increase. Each cent would add $30 a year to the tax bill on a $300,000 house. The new budget puts the town’s rate at 23.5 cents. Property owners also pay a 28-cent county rate.
But with a state mandate to approve a balanced budget by June 30, there was no time left to reworked the numbers. Mayor Sheila Davies said that previous budget workshops were the time to raise objections.
She challenged the suggestion that the town was overstaffed.
“We’re also the only town that’s got 7,000-plus people,” Davies said. “We’re the largest municipality in the county.”
The additional positions reinstate jobs rather than add them, Commissioner Brandi Rheubottom said, and some of the same high-level positions in other towns do exist, just by different names.
Also by a 3-2 vote, the commission lifted the town’s hiring freeze. The move would not allow Town Manager Debora Diaz to add positions but would give her discretion to fill jobs that become open.
Earlier at Wednesday night’s meeting, commissioners decided to hold a town forum in late October to discuss outdoor displays.
Several proposals, including one that would prohibit outdoor displays, were proposed to address the practice of putting bicycles, kayaks, surfboards and other items outside stores and rental businesses to draw walk-in customers.
About a half dozen business owners spoke on the topic, most of them opposed to making changes.
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