MATTHEWS – Town leaders are scheduled to vote June 8 on a $26.1 million budget that maintains the $0.28 tax rate, but they’ll likely have discussions by October, if not sooner, about potentially increasing property taxes in future years.
Matthews Town Manager Hazen Blodgett has floated the idea at least twice during budget discussions about the need for commissioners to have a conversation about raising the tax rate sometime after approving the next fiscal year budget.
It last came up June 1 after Commissioner Jeff Miller mentioned the public works budget may not be funded at a level that meets leaders’ expectations for road maintenance and streetscape enhancements.
Commissioner Larry Whitley also brought up the idea of building another fire station down the road.
Blodgett acknowledged this year’s fiscal year budget is not that good (a 3.9% decrease from last year) due to circumstances brought on by COVID-19, but he said leaders could have a mini-conference in October to talk more long term.
“Our concern is 28 cents on a tax dollar with the expectation of the quality of services this community, you guys and we want to provide is an artificially low tax rate,” Blodgett said. “I know that’s painful to say, I think we have to start having those conversations. And I think it should probably be a community conversation, too.”
Commissioner John Urban agreed with Blodgett.
“We’re not a 28-cent community,” Urban said. “We’re probably a 32-, 34-cent community. But there’s an education process that has to do with that.”
During the May 11 budget workshop, Blodgett said Matthews’ tax rate is much lower in comparison to full-service communities surrounding Wake County. Mayor John Higdon pushed pack, saying the low tax rate is why people move to Matthews.
By the June 1 meeting, Higdon acknowledged the town has a lot of needs.
“It is going to be difficult going forward with a 28-cent tax rate,” he said. “It’s something we’re going to have to discuss.”