Pinehurst approves FY24 budget with $0.23 tax rate

Council approves adoption of Metropolitan Planning Area for urban area

PINEHURST – The Village of Pinehurst Council met Tuesday, June 13, with the passing of their FY 2024 budget ordinance and the approval of a few broader county-related matters on the agenda.

The council approved the FY 2024 Budget Ordinance for the Village of Pinehurst, but before that vote took place, Mayor Pro Tem Pat Pizzella proposed an additional tax rate cut.

The original proposed tax rate in the budget is $0.23, which is already $0.08 lower than the previous tax rate and $0.005 lower than the projected revenue-neutral rate. Pizzella’s request was for the lowering of the rate by an additional penny to $0.22.

“This happened to be a unique year not only for the Village of Pinehurst but for the County of Moore because it coincided with the property tax rate revaluation for our citizens and their homes,” Pizzella said. “This past year, the average valuation increased by 49.5% for homes in the Village of Pinehurst which is a pretty steep hike. What we have before us is a pretty solid budget, but I believe we are taking a little more money than we need to run our government, which is why I would like to see the rate at which we assess our homeowners to be a little less.

“This will have the advantage of leaving a few more dollars in the hands of our tax-paying residents. I realize that it’s a small amount, but I think it makes a difference. There are people in the Village of Pinehurst that are on fixed incomes, or they find themselves widowed all of a sudden, and not everybody is as fixed as everybody else. If we can have people keep a little bit more of their money, this will be a plus for them.”

According to Pizzella, the reduction of the tax rate would amount to a difference of approximately $600,000 in the budget.

However, the motion to reduce the rate further failed 2-3, with Mayor John Strickland and councilmembers Lydia Boesch and Jeff Morgan voting against it.

“If we change the rate to a lower one now, it will cause us to have to increase the rate – according to the plans that we now have – at a faster rate and at different times into the future than we otherwise would if we set the rate this year at $0.23,” Strickland said.

“This year is not an island alone,” Morgan said. “This is part of a five-year plan. Whenever you’re talking about a tax cut, that plays pretty well and gets a lot of people’s attention because you think you’re saving money. But if we’re going to have these big purchases later on, we will be put in a position where we have to raise the taxes. The reason this tax rate was created was to keep it at an even plane to be able to save up for those big expenditures, and so we don’t have to, later on, raise the tax rate. You’re really popular when you lower taxes. You’re not really popular when you raise them, and we’d be setting ourselves up to raise them in the future.”

The council also adopted a contract renewal with Lofton Garbage Services for solid waste collection in The Country Club of North Carolina.

“We contract out our solid waste services in CCNC, and so we currently have two different contractors that provide those services to us, Lofton Garbage Services and Becky’s Rubbish,” said Public Services Director Mike Apke. “Lofton currently provides the majority of homes in CCNC with service, and they do nearly 400 homes. Becky’s does about 60 homes. We have identical one-year contracts with each of them, and we renew them every year.”

The Village will pay a CPI adjustment rate, which is an increase of 5.4%, totaling $135,000 for the services.

The council also adopted a resolution of support for the Moore County Transportation Committee’s proposed STIP 7.0 Project Prioritization submission.

“What this list represents is the seven highest scoring highway projects and the seven highest scoring bike and pedestrian projects based on the last round of scoring that was done for the various eligible projects that are out there,” said Village Manager Jeff Sanborn. “This list has been sent out to all the local governments in Moore County for approval, and what will be required is approval from the majority of these local government boards.”

The council finally approved the Metropolitan Planning Area (MPA) for the Sandhills Area Metropolitan Planning Organization in conjunction with Southern Pines, Aberdeen, Pinebluff, Taylortown, Whispering Pines and Foxfire.

“This urbanized zone that the census has been tracking for a number of years was just recently recognized as such as a result of the 2020 Census because it reached a population threshold of over 50,000 which was the triggering event that required us to form a municipal planning organization,” Sanborn said.

The Village of Pinehurst will next meet June 27.

By Lauren Rose

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