Opinion: The Straight Story on Morrisville & Taxes

Written by Jackie Holcombe, Mayor of Morrisville, North Carolina. Photo by Hal Goodtree.

Balance Between Services and Cost

This year, as every year, the Town of Morrisville will consider how best to balance a desire for a well-maintained, safe community that offers reasonable quality of life amenities with taxpayer cost.  Over the next 5 months we will examine revenue and growth projections, review strategic priorities and receive departmental staff reports. We will hold workshops, virtual open houses and public hearings, all dedicated to our Fiscal Year 2013 budget.   And when that budget is adopted in June, if we have done our job and listened well, the balance between services and cost will reflect the desires of our community.

What Service Level Fits our Expectations?

For years, significant tax-base and population growth in Morrisville led to year-over-year increases in revenue.  Without much effort, people and businesses found their way to the Heart of the Triangle, drawn as they were to our desirable location and exceptional quality of life.  Over time we became less rural and more an innovative crossroads where cultural heritage meets the next generation, nurturing vibrant communities of diverse families and businesses, while preserving small-town values. But now the question begs:  how well do we want to maintain our community and what service level provision best fits our high expectations?

Austere Budgets

Our town staff has expertly executed austere budgets for multiple years running, increasing efficiency along the way.  As a result, our residential taxes and fees are among the lowest in Wake County.  Our full time staff has been pared to 150, a rate of only 7.5 employees per 1000 population.  (For comparison sake, the staffing rate in Cary is 8.5/1000 residents.)  We have delayed and deferred routine maintenance and capital projects, an approach that has left our fund balance – or savings account – rich, but our list of needs long.  Yes, we have consistently delivered high level, quality services. But we have not adequately responded to community requests for better roads, expanded parks and greenways, preservation of historic buildings and a vibrant town center.

Make Your Voice Heard

Morrisville is a community of engaged, informed residents with high expectations.  We can meet those expectations, demonstrate good stewardship of financial resources and still continue to be one of the best values in the Triangle.  But shared responsibility for Morrisville’s future through continued investment in infrastructure and quality of life amenities will be needed.  I look forward to the defining conversations to come.

Morrisville: 2013 Fiscal Budget
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15 replies
    • Jackie Holcombe
      Jackie Holcombe says:

      Improvements never happen as quickly as we would like, but the traffic signal at Town Hall Dr and Morrisville-Carpenter Rd should be in place by the end of June.

  1. joe
    joe says:

    Thank you Mayor Holcombe for your response and the willingness to look into these issues. If I may further point out, a signal light at the Town hall/M-C road would ease the traffic problem at that intersection. Town hall gets backed up when M-C gets jammed. The new right turns at the RR doesn’t seemed to have smoothed the traffic enough. With the new fire station in place, I think it makes sense to have a signal light there so that fire trucks can access M-C road when it get’s backed up. I am not sure what the feasibility study for a signal light there would entail, but from a citizen’s view who frequents that road, it is one of the top priorities. Thank you again:)

    • Jackie Holcombe
      Jackie Holcombe says:

      Joe, You are right about the signal at Town Hall Dr & M-C, and here’s a bit of good news: the signal is being designed as we speak. Assuming council agrees to funding, the signal should be installed in the not too distant future.

  2. Jackie Holcombe
    Jackie Holcombe says:

    Don – no, shared responsibility is not code for tax increase. I do not think we are adequately maintaining our infrastructure. What’s important, though, is what our community thinks is an acceptable level of infrastructure maintenance.

    We received quite a bit of positive feedback recently on a park proposed for the area near Church St and McCrimmon Pkwy. The question then becomes should we put this park ahead of maintenance? IMO, no. But again, the community should weigh in on the best balance of need, want, cost and long-term sustainability.

  3. Jackie Holcombe
    Jackie Holcombe says:

    Good point and idea, Lindsey, and I agree that infrastructure maintenance/improvement should be receiving more attention. We’ve prioritized road improvements by group – short or long term – in our 2009 transportation plan and state roads in need of improvement have been prioritized via the MTIP. Further refining the list and identifying funding are good next steps.

    I have floated the idea of creation of a transportation task force. Assuming the idea receives council support, prioritization might be one of the outcomes.

  4. joe
    joe says:

    ….If Morrisville had prioritised, they would have widened the Morrisville carpenter rd that happens to be at the mouth of the town hall atleast 2 years ago. Perimeter park rd/nc 54 junction is witnessing a lot of accidents lately due to lack of a signal light there. I haven’t seen any explanation to this from any city official yet. And still, with the surplus funds and the addition of Park West project to their tax base they still want to propose a tax rate hike so that some historic building or a greenway can be maintained. I am totally for a greenway and would be a proponent for such a cause, but road improvements and safety comes first, so that we can atleast reach home and then head to the greenway. Morrisville should learn from Cary. Or allow Cary to annex the whole town and let them handle all the services like they already do.

    • Jackie Holcombe
      Jackie Holcombe says:

      Good point, Joe, and I agree that road maintenance and safety should come before parks/greenways.

      There’s a divide in the community as to which NCDOT road should be our top priority: is it NC54, Morrisville-Carpenter Rd or McCrimmon Pkwy? McCrimmon Pkwy is getting done via development in fits and starts, with the RR grade separation the biggest expense. The Town spent local tax dollars on the M-C/54 intersection a few years back. How much more responsibility should our taxpayers take for maintaining and upgrading the state’s assets? I don’t know the answer to that question.

      I’ll check on plans for a light @ Perimeter Park/54. Eventual extension of McCrimmon across 54 will help. FYI, though Perimeter Park is town owned, 54 belongs to the state.

  5. Don
    Don says:

    “But shared responsibility for Morrisville’s future through continued investment in infrastructure and quality of life amenities will be needed”

    Is that fancy talk for a tax increase?

    • Jackie Holcombe
      Jackie Holcombe says:

      Thanks, Pete. You’ve been a staunch supporter of infrastructure maintenance and your input will be valuable during our budget deliberations.

  6. Lindsey Chester
    Lindsey Chester says:

    As a person who frequently travels through Morrisville, I’d like to see your town prioritize road improvements.

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