The Town of Aberdeen held a special budget meeting on May 24, preceding the regular board meeting, and showed a property valuation increase of 7% from last year reaching over $1 billion.
The town approved the 2021-2022 budget, which was in balance while also maintaining expenses and debts.
According to Town Manager Paul Sabiston, reaching the billion mark is a big deal. Property valuations determine property tax rates, and those taxes help fund emergency services and education.
The budget has a flat tax rate of 49 cents and no increase to monthly garbage collection, water and sewer fees, or the base rate.
A return to normal spending and growth was seen in the budget analysis. It showed the budget increased by $1,555,467 from the previous budget. The spending includes four new full-time employees, a new fire engine, and market pay adjustment to increase staff salaries.
The spending increases help the town remain competitive in the workplace while keeping pace with residential growth.
The federal American Recovery Plan (ARP) funds were placed to help relieve COVID-19 burdens, and the funds were partially responsible for “an enormous financial boost to the town’s ability to fund water/sewer improvements and general fund expenses,” according to the report. A partial $1.17 million of the total $2.34 million ARP funds was received this year.
Spending the ARP funds requires federally approved measures, which have not yet been released, so no specific projects have been approved for the ARP funds.
“The town has gotten through it with a lot of success,” Sabiston said about recovering from the pandemic.
Also responsible for the balanced budget is the reduction in the original interest rate for the police facility, saving approximately $120,000, and the increase of property values. Higher property taxes will fund the new fire engine at a cost of $638,000.
A detailed copy of the budget may be read here.
During the public hearing, Aberdeen Friends of the Library spokesperson Tom Cruce presented a brief history and list of reasons to build a 6,000 square foot library. Property at 105 North Pine St. has been paid in full and would be deeded over to the town should the town financially support building a new library.
Cruce said a library is the cultural soul of any town.
Aberdeen Friends of the Library made a presentation at the May 24 Aberdeen board meeting.
Computers for the library would be covered by the regional library. Books would be provided by the county and the state.
The nonprofit organization requested funds for the construction costs and furniture.
Page Memorial Library is the second oldest in the state, and Aberdeen Friends of the Library wants the building and its historical contents preserved as an extension of a new library.
During the informal discussion and public hearing, an Oath of Office for new police officer Dawson Cagle was made by Chief Carl Colasacco and other police officers and fire personnel were honored.
Colasacco read a brief biography for Caroline Pridgen who was promoted to detective with the Aberdeen Police Department. Pridgen received her master’s degree from Liberty University in criminal justice this month.
Captain Brian Chavis presented the Traffic Enforcement and Investigation Certificate to master officer Gypsie Adcox. The certificate recognizes over 400 hours of training.
Fire Chief Phillip Richardson recognized Jeff Hopkins for his promotion to captain with the Aberdeen Fire Department.
Richardson recognized Alan Holmes for his promotion to chief of operations and maintenance with the Aberdeen Fire Department.
The town approved James Williamson’s eagle scout project to erect and maintain a women veteran’s monument at the new Sharpe Park location on East Main Street. The new park location is next to the American Legion.
Williamson’s project consists of a stone monument with a plaque, a message board, six flagpoles and commemorative bricks with supporters’ names lining the concrete walk.
A request for a zoning change from light industrial to conditional zoning light industrial with added retail use types including fuel sales was delayed. A traffic impact analysis study had been advised by Aberdeen Planning Director Justin Westbrook before the evening’s hearing, and owner John O’Malley did not provide the study.
O’Malley owns the former Gulistan Carpet Factory property on 57.55 acres and a separate lot at 2.97 acres, each with road frontage on N.C. Highway 5.
The 650,000 square foot former carpet factory has tenants within industrial use classification.
The 2,370 square foot outbuilding is vacant, and a 35,308 square foot outbuilding is home to Design Market with nonconforming “Retail Sales, Major” use that is not permitted in light industrial zoned districts.
O’Malley was advised to supply the traffic impact analysis for consideration, and his request will be heard again at a public hearing on June 28.
~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Stephanie M. Sellers.