Cary Town Council Ends 2020 with Positive Economic Update

Cary, NC — With upward-trending sales tax revenues and $2.7 million in additional CARES Act reimbursements up for grabs in January, the Town of Cary’s financial position is solid, according to Town CFO Karen Mills.

In likely the shortest council meeting of the year, at under 16 minutes long, the council made just one action. With unanimous approval, six sidewalk projects are moving forward that will fill in missing links in Cary’s sidewalk network.

But first, here’s the full economic update for Cary.

Sales Taxes Continue to Look Good

The Town receives Cary’s share of sales tax revenues two and a half months after the month of sale. In last night’s meeting, Mills reported sales tax numbers from September 2020, which continued in the trend of prior months — coming in higher than anticipated.

The totals came out even better than sales tax revenues of September 2019, making year-to-date sales tax revenues 7% higher.

“We didn’t expect this segment of the economy to perform like this last spring when we set the budget,” said Mills.

She added, “If this trend continues, sales tax revenues will help offset reduced parks revenue as the pandemic continues to delay the return of most parks program revenues.”

CARES Act Reimbursements

While still in Fiscal Year 2020, the Town of Cary received $2.5 million of CARES Act money to help cover $4.3 million in expenses. Specifically, this was $750,000 from Wake County, $126,000 from Chatham County and $1.6 million from the Federal Transit Administration.

Recently, Mills says the Town received news that there are additional reimbursements available from Wake County to the tune of $2.7 million that Cary must apply for. If granted, that would take Cary’s total reimbursements to $5.2 million.

“We hope to receive those funds in January,” said Mills. “These resources will help us manage some increased public safety overtime costs that we’re experiencing this year.”

Looking at the primary sources of revenue for Cary, Mills says, “the Town’s financial position remains solid and positive trends are on track to outpace any revenue budget shortfalls.”

Capital Projects: The Focus of FY 2022 Budget Planning

As the Town keeps a pulse on the current FY 2021 budget, the process of creating the budget for FY 2022 is underway. Mills says the focus of it will be strengthening the Town’s Capital Program funds. To help with this, the Town has appointed a Director of Capital Projects, Alex Jones.

“By adding this new focus, we’ll be best prepared for our financial obligations in the future for both new assets and the maintenance of existing infrastructure,” said Mills.

Cary has over 400 projects and hundreds of millions of dollars in resources dedicated to its Capital Program. In the past, those have largely been projects to construct new assets. But, as Mills puts it, Cary is aging and with that comes a need for more attention to maintenance needs.

Sidewalk Fill-Ins Around Cary

Transportation Planning Engineer, Luana Deans presented the above six sidewalk projects that have been prioritized this year from a list of 32 total requests.

The cost to complete these projects will predominantly stem from a Transit LAPP grant awarded to Cary last year from the NC Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. The grant requires a 25% local match of funds which for these projects will amount to $278,000.

In a roll call vote, the council approved the list and funding without discussion.

Council Moves into Closed Session

There were no call-in or write-in speakers from the public during this meeting, but before adjourning, the council moved into a 50-minute closed session. In councilwoman Lori Bush’s motion to begin the session, she explained it was to discuss matters related to Cary Towne Center, Fenton and other confidential topics related to Town employees and attorneys.

The full meeting is viewable on the Town of Cary YouTube channel.

The Council has two regular meetings scheduled for January 2021:

Story by Ashley Kairis. Photos screen captured from the virtual meeting.

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