By Bob Keith

Mayor of Lake Lure, NC

The meeting room was full and charged with anticipation. This was the evening of the public hearing on the town’s budget. Town staff, Manager Nalley and Council had conducted months of discussions of historical financial data, reviews of current year revenues and expenses and incorporated input from department heads of future financial needs and projections. All of this intense collaboration was to culminate in Manager Nalley presenting a balanced budget proposal to Town Council. Because the budget process is totally open and transparent, much information and rumor had spread throughout the community. It became evident that Washington, DC does not have a monopoly on news leaks and “fake news.” Many residents wanted explanations and clarification. This is healthy. The public was heard. Adjustments were made. Calm heads prevailed and the 2017-2018 budget was ready for adoption later in June prior to the July 1st deadline.

The budget was set at $6,743,700. Although many capital projects had to be eliminated or deferred, this year’s budget features the following:

Salary Study Implementation – $51K

Employee Cost of Living Benefit – $28.8K

Employee Longevity Benefit – $42.4K

New restrooms for Morse Park – $94K

Morse Park Recreational Planning Study – $25K

Boardwalk Replacement Study – $20K

Dredging – $325K

A new full time Fire Fighter position – $40K

Golf Course Improvements – $10K

Police vehicle and equipment – $45.6K

New equipment for Public Works – $15.6K

Beach House Renovations – $11.3K

Street Assessment Study – $15K

Street Paving – $68.5K

Chamber, EDA and Flowering Bridge – $25K

Other necessary annual expense items include legal, audit, accounting and IT services, debt service, insurance, bonding, unemployment and administrative fees, funding of the GreenLine Project, three projects in Community Development, four projects in Water and Sewer, five projects in Electric and at the Dam, overall maintenance in all town facilities and preservation and growth of our Reserve Fund.

The good news and bottom line of all of this is that the property tax rate was unchanged and maintained at .276 cents per $100 of property value and water and sewer rates remained unchanged. Going forward however, with the plans, desires and dreams that we have for Lake Lure, it is especially important to prioritize our needs as a community. The budget process allows us to assess needs, together with resources to make more systematic decisions regarding the emphasis that our community will place on particular goals and objectives. The capital improvement plan annual budget is a key element in providing community direction and is the foundation of our bright future. We urge you to get involved and share your thoughts with our capable staff, our volunteer committees and Council members. It’s your future to create.

With all that said, have a great, safe and happy summer season!