Lake Lure adopts $9.5M budget

Photo by Buddy Morrison

The Town is proud to be hosting Cycle NC in Lake Lure on August 4-6. We look forward to having over 300 cyclers and their family members in Town for their annual Mountain Ride. We know everyone will give the cyclers a warm welcome as they enjoy the amazing scenery and exquisite beauty Lake Lure has to offer!

I am pleased to report that the Town of Lake Lure has adopted the budget for fiscal year 2023-2024. The fiscal year began July 1 and extends through June 30, 2024. The new budget is based on our ongoing strategic priorities and thoughtful analysis of departmental operating budgets which have been closely reviewed this year.

General Budget: The general fund budget is balanced at $9,511,465. This includes $219,014 in appropriated fund balance for non-recurring capital costs and projects.

County Re-evaluations: Rutherford County conducted a re-valuation of all properties in 2022.

  • Lake Lure property values are estimated to have increased by 56.3 % over previous valuations. 
  • The North Carolina General Statute requires that a “revenue neutral” tax rate be stated as a part of the budget.
  • This revenue-neutral rate for the Town of Lake Lure is calculated at $0.357 per $100 of property value.
  • Lake Lure’s budget is balanced at the recommended tax rate of $0.357 per $100 of property value. 

The following tax rate factors have been applied: 

  • 15.7 cent rate for municipal services
  • 7.3 cent rate for fire protection services
  • 12.7 cent rate for the dam capital reserve fund.

The total net taxable revenue is $1,327,199,558. This should generate $4,666,604 in tax revenue on real, personal, and utility property, assuming the current collection rate by Rutherford County of 98%.

The Town’s Water and Sewer Fund is $1,650,360.

  • The Town has a Hydro Fund that is balanced at $300,150 with revenue derived from a power purchase agreement with Duke Energy.
  • The hydropower generation equipment is used as a method to regulate Lake Levels while generating income through hydropower production. 

Provision of Services: The FY 2023-2024 Budget anticipates Fire, Police, and Public Services, Administration, Communications, Community Development, Parks, Recreation and Lake; and Utilities to continue at current service levels.

The budget provides for the following new initiatives: 

  • Planning the development of a new Fire Department facility,
  • Continuing the implementation of the Morse Park Master Plan,
  • Implementing a planning process for the redevelopment of the Green Space,
  • Creation of a transportation initiative that will lead to establishment of a crucial pedestrian connection with Chimney Rock Village,
  • Additionally, Town Council approved $8,000 to fund a new parking lot for the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge, a flourishing park that provides ongoing enjoyment to the public year round.

Capital Infrastructure Projects and Lake Dredging: The FY 2023-2024 budget provides support to crucial major infrastructure priorities such as the Lake Lure Replacement Dam project; the replacement of the subaqueous sewer system; and upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant. Each of these projects are major multi-year initiatives that are critical for Lake Lure’s future.

Dam Replacement: It is anticipated that the Town will be engaged in a project to install reservoir drain valves in the Lake Lure Dam this will enable the Lake to be drained as much as 20 feet, if necessary.

  • The valves themselves were purchased in FY 2022-2023.
  • The cost of the project is expected to be approximately $8 million and is expected to be completed in 2024.
  • The cost of this project will come from capital reserve funds that are dedicated to the replacement of the Dam.
  • The first reserve fund has a balance of approximately $3.2 million and is funded by an annual contribution from the general fund of $1.6 million.
  • The second capital reserve fund is approximately $16 million which was established by an appropriation by the North Carolina General Assembly.

Sewer System Replacement and Wastewater Treatment Plant Replacement: Lake Lure’s infrastructure projects for the replacement sewer system, as well as the replacement wastewater treatment plant are both supported by funds from the American Rescue Plan (ARPA). 

  • The ARPA was funded at $8 million. 
  • Additionally, the Town has a State Revolving Loan from the State of North Carolina for $12.5 million for these projects.
  • Both projects are included in the Capital Projects Ordinance.
  • The work to support the sewer system replacement will continue in 2024 when the lake is drawn down.

Drawdown Update: The drawdown schedule has been revised to accommodate the reservoir drain valve installation noted above.

  • The plan is to begin drawing the Lake down on 1/1/24 and to begin refilling the Lake on 3/31/24.
  • The rate of refilling the Lake depends on the weather and the amount of rain received.
  • It is anticipated that the Lake will be back within normal operating limits well before the spring season begins. 

Dredging: Lake Lure’s budget includes $1 million annually for lake dredging activities.

  • This includes a $750,000 grant from the State of North Carolina to support these activities. 

Personnel: The FY 2023-2024 budget supports 41 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions.

  • Of these full-time positions, 38 are in the General Fund.
  • 2 full-time positions are in the Utility Fund.
  • 1 full-time position is in the Hydro Fund.
  • The budget includes one additional position that is recommended for the Fire Department starting in Fiscal Year 2023-2024.
  • The Town provides employees with a full benefits package including medical, dental, vision, retirement, and a 401(k) match of up to 5% of their salary.
  • Lake Lure provides a post-retirement benefit of health insurance after retirement with at least 5 years of service to the Town of Lake Lure.
  • The budget includes a market adjustment of 6.25% to adjust the Town’s annual compensation for both existing and new employees.
  • A 10% increase is provided for health insurance with no expected increases for either the dental or vision plans.

In summary, while the budget does not address everything we would like to do, it does provide for the continuation of the municipal services currently provided and at the level expected by our residents. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the dedication of our Town Manager Hank Perkins; our Finance Director Steve Ford; and each of the Department Heads for their leadership in support of the Town’s continued growth and improvements. On behalf of Town Council, I would like to thank all of the employees for the work they do every day for the Town of Lake Lure. The FY 2023-2024 budget ensures that we are able to continue working together to maintain Town assets and to make significant strategic investments in our infrastructure.

As always, I sincerely appreciate the support of our citizens as we strive to ensure Lake Lure will be better than ever for future generations. 

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