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New parks employee, no tax hike planned for Badin budget

The town of Badin has added a new staff salary to its proposed 2019-20 budget thanks to the planned addition of a new park.

“A 14-acre waterfront park will headline the town’s park system expansion and will create a need for additional staff,” a press release on the budget said.

A new public works employee will help keep up with the work the new park will create.

“Taking on additional land in the town will definitely lead to new expenses,” Badin Town Manager Jay Almond said via email. “Along those lines, council budgeted for a new mower and some park amenities.”

The new park will only account for part of the increased anticipated expenses, with some of the cost going to other properties.

“While the 14-acre park will be funded by grants rather than the town’s general fund, there are park amenities planned elsewhere in town that have increased several line items (in) the parks and recreation budget,” Almond added.

The land gift was part of an agreement formed with Alcoa Power Generating, Inc. In addition to other benefits, Morrow Mountain State Park will add about 1,180 acres of land to its property, as well.

The proposed budget would not raise taxes. The Badin Town Council had a meeting April 30 to work on the budget.

“Badin staff and council have been busy putting together a budget that will offer quality services to Badin citizens without raising taxes or overstraining limited resources,” Almond said in the release. “Badin has faced some pretty tough economic conditions in the past 10 years, some that were shared by municipalities and countries around the state and others that were unique to the town.”

Those struggles include the recession and “lost revenue due to the dismantling of primary property tax payer Alcoa Badin Works, formerly the largest property tax payer in Stanly County,” according to the release.

The loss of Badin’s former golf course has also affected its revenue compared to other years.

“When 107 Spruce St. was operated as the Badin Inn & Golf Club it was taxed as a golf course, but when it closed that value was set to drop,” Almond said via email. “Shortly after closure, the structures and acreage were sold and it was revalued in the tax office and designated open or undeveloped property, which dropped the value and associated tax revenue by about half.”

According to the release:

• The tax rate of 42 cents per $100 valuation will remain the same as the current rate.

• The town anticipates receiving about $691,000 in total revenue (the three largest sources include $400,000 from the sales and use tax, $230,000 from the property tax and $45,000 from the utility franchise tax.)

• Between anticipated revenue and fund balance appropriations, the town has a projected budget of around $858,000, in addition to about $55,000 from state Powell Bill allocations. (The Powell Bill funds can only be used for street maintenance.)

The town is also focusing on economic development, but Almond said no exact amount is yet set.

“Economic development activity in Badin is exceedingly important and the council maintains an active role,” Almond said. “With promising momentum building on several fronts, the council set aside funds to engage with an economic contractor to spur and grow that movement. What that dollar figure turns out to be will depend on the specifics of any contract signed and other factors.”

When asked about anticipated income or expenses from the 10 Days of Uwharrie Festival later this year, Almond said that revenues will probably be a longer-term benefit.

“Local benefits will branch and grow from activities in 10 Days of Uwharrie, North Carolina’s Official Outdoor Festival, but revenue will not be one of the initial indicators,” Almond said. “Event organizers and sponsors will definitely benefit from exposure and new market tapping along with bookings and sales, but Badin will primarily continue to develop as a premier destination for visitors excited by its expansive natural offerings. Support businesses are expected to take hold as the town becomes an established ecotourism-type destination.”

The festival was held for the first time last year, and Badin participated with events including a tour of the town led by Mayor Anne Harwood. Several possibilities for events are being discussed for this year.

The town has two vacancies in the police department, but “investigations continue to be resolved and patrols remain uninterrupted,” Badin reported in the release. It also noted that in addition to the waterfront park addition, other town upgrades may be in the works.

“Picnic shelters from a local vendor were discussed, as were drinking fountains and other projects, including the start of a central business district gateway and general business district streetscape enhancements,” according to the release.

“Badin continues to offer valuable amenities and execute project plans while keeping a steady and fair tax rate,” Harwood said in the release.

The town manager is also pleased with the report.

“There are a lot of wheels turning in Badin right now and the potential upside as they come together is extremely positive,” Almond said. “If half of what we’re working toward comes to fruition, the results will be beneficial not only for the town, but for the county, and really, for the region as well.”

The proposed budget will be finalized and approved by July 1, the start of the new fiscal year.

Imari Scarbrough is a freelance contributor for The Stanly News and Press.