My First Apex Budget
Posted on Sunday, June 17, 2018
The most interesting part of being on the Apex Town Council thus far has been my involvement in the development of the 2018-2019 fiscal year budget spanning July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019. My first task was eye-opening: I was given a stack of 47 index cards with capital improvement projects (along with a booklet containing short descriptions and cost estimates) and asked to prioritize them. My top three all involved improving walkability: 1) Beaver Creek Greenway (Phase I & II), 2) Middle Creek Greenway (Phase I, II & III), and 3) Safe Routes to School. There were other exciting projects on the list (Pleasant Park, Downtown parking deck, railroad crossing quiet zones), and even the projects that I ranked in the lowest third would benefit Apex residents immensely. A plan with the entire list of projects and their consensus rankings was approved at the June 5th Town Council meeting (http://www.apexnc.org/DocumentCenter/View/23313/newbusiness02).
This activity highlighted the fact that Apex’s rapid growth has led to substantial infrastructure needs, not to mention the extra need for staff related to public safety, public works, utilities, parks and rec, permitting, and planning among other Town services. That realization informed my thinking going into the Town Council annual retreat on February 9th where we discussed how the Council members collectively ranked the projects and set priorities for upcoming FY18-19 budget. My message to the Town Manager and other Council members was that if given the choice of funding more projects sooner with a higher tax rate or delaying some projects with a lower tax rate, I choose the former. At the April 12th budget workshop, a majority of the Council members gave preliminary approval for a draft budget having a $.035 increase in the property tax rate ($.015 of which was related to the Parks and Rec bond that passed in November 2017) from $.38 to $.415. Next year, this increase along with minor increases in the vehicle tax and savings from a transfer of the Apex EMS to Wake County will fund additional road/sidewalk construction, police officers, and an earlier timeline for the planning and construction of Jessie Dr connecting NC-55 and Ten-Ten Rd. The final budget was approved at the June 5th Town Council meeting (http://www.apexnc.org/DocumentCenter/View/23284/newbusiness01).
I know that raising taxes will anger some Apex residents and put a financial strain on others, but I voted for this budget because I think it will make Apex better next year and in the future. Being called a “Tax and Spend Liberal” isn’t fun, but I can handle it knowing that Apex residents will see tangible improvements in their safety, transportation, walkability, and other quality of life metrics. I’m always happy to hear feedback about the budget or anything else related to Apex, so feel free to email me at [email protected] or sign up for a “Beers with Brett”. Thanks!