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City budget plan includes property tax increase

ASHEBORO — Looking to continue investing in downtown Asheboro, the Zoo City Sportsplex and McCrary Park, City Manager John Ogburn recommended to the City Council that they pass a tax increase for the coming fiscal year.


Ogburn presented the proposed 2023-24 budget to the council on May 30 with the tagline “Investing for Greatness — Building for the Future.” His budget is balanced at $73,826,504 with a property tax rate of 72 cents per $100 of valuation. 


The budget is divided between the General Fund of $49,317,153 and the Water and Sewer Fund of $24,509,351.


His budget letter began: “This Budget is investing for greatness as we continue to make significant capital investments in our vibrant downtown, the Zoo City Sportsplex, and our ‘cathedral of baseball’ Historic McCrary Park. The budget also continues to make investments in our employees. Last year, facing significant losses and shortages in our Police, Fire, Public Services and Wastewater Treatment Plant, the council boldly enhanced wages and training opportunities and as a result there are no vacancies in these critical departments. Additionally, all eligible employees at the Wastewater Treatment Plant have passed/obtained their operator certifications. This budget continues those investments. 


“In this budget, the City will focus on succession planning in critical management level positions as well as bringing in the Executive Director of Downtown Asheboro Inc as a Planner and Downtown Asheboro Liason for the City of Asheboro. The City is only as great as our citizens, and in keeping with our Strategic Plan, this year we continue to make investments in local agencies that enhance our quality of life.”


Ogburn’s letter went on to say that, as a result of building for the future, the Asheboro Fire and Rescue Department recently was awarded the ISO rating of 1, which only a small percentage if fire department attain. Plans are under way to build a new fire station/emergency operations center on Zoo Parkway as growth is focused south toward the NC Zoo. 


Also, the budget includes the beginnings of a local transit system, the Zoo City Loop, with anticipated state funding.


The budget also includes investments in vehicles and equipment, upgrades to the water and sewer system, a water line (funded primarily by the state) along US 64 East to the Wolfspeed megasite in Chatham County, and the David and Pauline Jarrell Center City Garden.


Noting that property values in the city have not kept up with historic levels — “We’re an industrial town in a post-industrial world.” — Ogburn recommended that the council raise the property tax rate to 72 cents from the current 66.5 cents. He pointed out the continued increasing costs of public safety operations, investments in economic development including downtown, support of local agencies, completion and maintenance of the Zoo City Sportsplex and McCrary Park, initiating the Zoo City Bus Loop and rebuilding the city’s cash reserves.


Ogburn said public safety, which includes the Police Department, Fire Department, Building Inspections and Fire Inspections, total $20,818,340, or 91.26 percent of the real property tax revenue. “When funding governmental activities, we look toward taxpayer revenue to fund, at a minimum, public safety expenses,” he said. “This is because everyone, all taxpayers and citizens, wants and benefits from public safety. It is important to all.”


The rates for garbage collection ($18 per month) and recycle collection ($5 per month) remain the same as well as the inside-city water and sewer rates.


A public hearing on the 2023-24 budget will be held on Thursday, June 15, at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers at the Municipal Building, 146 N. Church St. Adoption of the budget is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday, June 26. 


A copy of the proposed budget is available at the city clerk’s office in the Municipal Building during regular business hours. It’s also posted on the city website, asheboronc.gov.