MINT HILL – The Mint Hill Board of Commissioners unanimously approved on June 13 a budget that is 8.7% bigger than the current budget, but almost all of the increase is for public safety.
The budget is $17,065,654, up from this year’s budget of $14,996,460. The tax rate for the town will be $0.255 per $100 valuation, which is a drop from the current $0.27 tax rate. The revenue-neutral tax rate, which would be the rate for the town to take in the same amount of money next year as this year while factoring in average growth, would be $0.216. That means tax bills could go up for some residents since many homeowners and businesses saw the value of their property increase after the recent reevaluation.
The biggest jump in the budget is for the fire department, which increases by $1,092,674 to $3,478,520. The budget adds three new firefighters and the department will get a new $850,000 rescue-pumper fire truck. It also includes continued funding of $100,000 for the station expansion.
“The three new firefighters are going to be very important for us,” Mint Hill Fire Chief David Leath said. “We will now be able to put four on two pieces of apparatus. That is going to be huge for us.”
The new rescue-pumper will be delivered next month, and it will replace a 15-year-old pumper and 22-year-old rescue truck.
“What we decided this time is to combine both of them into one because I don’t have the staffing to run all the pieces of apparatus,” Leath said. “It will have the capacity of a regular fire engine.”
The police department budget is $5,047,285, which is an increase of $892,810 from this year’s budget. The department will hire four additional patrol officers and a crime analyst. The department, which asked for 10 new vehicles, including four for the new officers, will get six new patrol vehicles.
“This means that the town will now have better coverage,” Mint Hill Chief of Police Tim Ledford said. “The way it is now, officers have court time, vacation, they are sick, they are going to training and we are working short-staffed. By adding the extra officers, it is going to fill in those vacant spots, and we will not have to pay overtime for an officer to come over from another shift to fill in.”
The police department budget also includes $52,000 in new incentives for police officers who receive additional training. Twelve officers received on average of $4,000 in incentives this year, with incentives ranging from 2.5% to 12% depending on what threshold they met.
Ledford said the incentive program will help the department retain officers.
“The incentive program is very important,” Ledford said. “The town is losing money when an officer leaves. It averages about $45,000 to $50,000 for training time, uniforms and equipment. If an officer leaves after one year for any other entity, the town is losing about $45,000. Having an incentive program to encourage our officers to stay with the town is going to pay for itself multiple times over.”