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Proposed Fletcher budget includes property tax rate decrease

Fletcher Town Manager Mark Biberdorf outlines the 2023-2024 proposed budget to Town Council. Fletcher Town Manager Mark Biberdorf outlines the 2023-2024 proposed budget to Town Council.

Fletcher residents will likely see a property tax rate decrease if Town Council adopts the budget it considered during a special meeting Wednesday.

During a budget retreat at Town Hall, Fletcher Town Manager Mark Biberdorf outlined to council members a $9,350,734 balanced budget that lowers the town’s current tax rate from 34 cents per $100 valuation to 28 cents per $100 valuation.
The proposed 2023-2024 budget is a $699,297 increase over the 2022-2023 budget and reflects a 43 percent increase in real property values in Fletcher determined by the recent reappraisal of property values in Henderson County. Property values increased by an average of 48 percent countywide during the reappraisal.
Mayor Preston Blakely said during a break in Biberdorf’s presentation that he was pleased with the proposed budget.
“I think we’re headed in the right direction,” he said. “We’re trying to do our best to keep taxes down.”
The proposed tax rate in Fletcher is near the calculated revenue neutral rate of 27.7 cents, which taxing authorities must report by law in a revaluation year.

The proposed 28-cent tax rate includes 18.5 cents to support services directly provided by the town. The remaining 9.5 cents of the proposed tax rate goes toward fire protection services provided through the town’s contract with Fletcher Fire & Rescue.
The appropriation for Fletcher’s fire department under the proposed tax rate will increase from $1,505,975 to $1,646,434.
Henderson County sets the fire tax rate for fire districts in the county and Fletcher typically tries to mirror the county’s rate, Biberdorf said during a break in the meeting. But the town’s contract bars Fletcher Fire & Rescue from lowering the fire tax rate below 9.5 cents.
The revenue neutral rate for the fire department is 8.7 cents, he said.
Biberdorf said a small fraction of the town’s fire and rescue services are also provided by Mills River Fire & Rescue, which covers the former Continental Automotive Systems site. The tax rate proposed for the Mills River department is 10 cents of the overall 28-cent tax rate. The total appropriation for Mills River will decrease from $107,959 to $20,465 as a reflection of the decrease in property value due to Continental leaving, he said. The revenue neutral rate for the Mills River Fire District is 8.5 cents.
Henderson County has not yet set fire tax rates in the unincorporated areas of the county.
Increases in the 2023-2024 budget in Fletcher are mostly for expenses related to personnel and equipment and includes a 4 percent cost of living increase.
The proposed budget increases the police department budget from $1,983,268 to $2,301,954.
Most of the increase for the police department is due to $234,625 needed to buy body-cams and in-car camera system.
“That is our largest single purchase that is recommended for this budget,” he said.
Other increases in the proposed budget include a 5.2 percent increase to stay with the town’s existing health insurance, an increase in residential recycling costs, equipment purchases for the public works and parks and recreation departments and technology hardware and system upgrades.
Council is expected to adopt the 2023-24 budget on June 12 after a public hearing and a more condensed presentation on the proposed budget.