Adding two cents to property tax rate will help Matthews fire department
MATTHEWS – Town Manager Hazen Blodgett has recommended increasing the property tax rate by two cents to improve public safety.
His $22,362,741 budget for 2018-19 would allow the town to hire 10 new firefighters. The town will supplement paid staff with four volunteer positions.
“This would enable the town to provide adequate coverage around the clock with paid staff,” Blodgett told commissioners May 14.
Other Mecklenburg County towns are using part-time staff, according to Matthews Fire Chief Rob Kinniburgh.
“The market for firefighters across this entire region is extremely competitive,” Kinniburgh said. “We would be priority one, not priority two or three.”
Blodgett acknowledged there’s always a threat that larger organizations like Charlotte are going to pay more, but Matthews taking this approach provides more opportunity for advancement.
“It certainly makes us very competitive for a lot of folks,” he said.
Other highlights from the budget include two new telecommunicators for the police department, one new landscaper for public works, transitioning the transportation director from part-time to full-time, a 3 percent salary increase pool for full-time employees, and a pay and classification study to offer more competitive wages. Unemployment is down to 3.9 percent nationwide, making for a very competitive job market, Blodgett told commissioners.
Blodgett’s recommended budget is an increase of 3.8 percent or $845,000 from last year. Matthews has held its tax rate at 34 cents per $100 valuation since 2016. With the two-cent increase, the owner of a $300,000 home would pay $60 more.
“Two cents, to me, is a lot to raise it,” Commissioner Kress Query said. “I understand why we’re doing it. I don’t want us to get in a bind where it’s two cents this year and next year we got to have another increase in taxes. I would like to see something that’s mandating that we’re going to hold the line next year.”
Commissioner Jeff Miller said he may push back a little bit when it comes to a two-phase increase on the property tax rate, considering the county is undergoing a revaluation.
The tax rate was as high as 33.25 cents in 2011, but dropped following the 2011 revaluation. However, the town had to reimburse residents for inflated county reval rates.
“This budget does invest in our employees and resources needed to continue providing high-quality services to the residents of Matthews,” Blodgett said.
The community can give feedback about the budget during a public hearing at 7 p.m. May 29 at Matthews Town Hall, 2232 Matthews Station St. Commissioners could adopt the budget as early as that night.
Visit www.matthewsnc.gov for Town Manager Hazen Blodgett’s presentation to the commissioners, as well as details about the proposed 2018-19 budget.