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Laurel Park hears from residents ahead of budget vote

Jill Meyer, an 18-year resident of Laurel Park, speaks during the town’s public hearing on its proposed 2023-2024 budget. Jill Meyer, an 18-year resident of Laurel Park, speaks during the town’s public hearing on its proposed 2023-2024 budget.

Laurel Park’s Town Council on Thursday heard praise and concern from residents during a public hearing on its proposed 2023-2024 budget.

Council is expected to vote on the $7.38 million budget that focuses heavily on road improvements in town during its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday.
Jill Meyer, an 18-year resident of the town, questioned increases in spending in the budget and urged council to consider what the recent county-wide reappraisal of property values will mean for many residents if the tax rate remains too high.
“It’s going to put a lot of people in a position of potential hardship,” she said.
Resident Jenny Brown, who works to help the town’s parks, told the council she knew road improvements were need and thanked council members for their hard work. But she said she had also hoped the budget would do more for parks and greenways in town.
“Yes, I get you have to fix our roads, absolutely, but don’t forget about parks and greenways,” she said.
Although the proposed budget lowers the tax rate to 39.5 cents per $100 of property valuation — 4 cents lower than the current rate — the new levy would be 8.5 cents above the revenue neutral rate of 31. This year’s countywide reappraisal of property values raised real property values countywide by an average of 48 percent.
The proposed budget is 22 percent higher than the town’s current budget of $6 million and reflects the town’s commitment to improving the roads it maintains.
The budget the council will consider on Tuesday carries forward the town’s streets project from 2023. The proposed budget includes $1,672,720 for roadwork in Laurel Park and will be funded through previous appropriations, 6 cents of the proposed property tax rate and $200,000 from the town’s reserves, according to Town Manager Alex Carmichael.
The recommended spending plan also appropriates $742,565 in American Rescue Plan money that the town has not yet used, funding culvert and stormwater infrastructure repair.
Fire protection in Laurel Park will likely cost more in the coming year even though Valley Hill Fire and Rescue is to be funded at a lower rate of 9 cents of the proposed 39.5 cents tax rate. Under the current budget, 10 cents of the tax rate fund the town’s fire protection contract with Valley Hill.
Jay Egolf, who has lived in Laurel Park for 24 years and is a member of Henderson County’s school board, urged council to not forget roads where only a few people live when the project to improve roads begins.
“I just want the potholes filled,” he said of the road where he lives.
“My property taxes are going up tremendously,” he said. “When you pay for something and don’t get anything for it, that is what upsets me.”
Others who commented during the meeting and through written comments to the council thanks council for being helpful and urged the council to maintain the park-like feeling of the town.
Others said they felt the proposed budget was the result of overspending in town.
Council members said the project to improve stormwater runoff and culverts in town began in recent days. The paving project should begin later in the summer.