Zebulon town commissioners lined up at the buffet last night.
Following a financial update from Finance Director Emily Lucas in which she said the town's budget is projected to have a $895,000 surplus at year's end, commissioners began looking for ways to spend some of that extra money.
Part of the reason there is so much extra money is because earlier this year, the town board voted to hold off on several capital expenditures. That saved the town just over $200,000. The town also took in an additional $150,000 from taxes owed by local utility companies. Town officials discovered that local electric utilities were paying less than they should have been paying in franchise fees because no one realized the property being serviced was inside the town limits. The town also realized about $450,000 in additional tax revenues from GlaxoSmithKline.
So with extra money in hand, commissioners returned to their list of capital projects to see what they could reinstate. Commissioner Dale Beck said he thought every project on the list had merit. But commissioners were a little hesitant to do them all. instead, they settled on three: a study of the stoplights in downtown to make sure they are safe and in good condition; a mower to be used by the Parks and Recreation Department to cut grass; and sidewalk improvements on Vance and Horton streets. All told, those three projects will cost the town $110,500.
Still in a holding pattern are improvements to the public works storage shed ($24,000), playground improvements at Community Park ($50,000), Little River Park signage ($5,000) and basketball and tennis court resurfacing ($18,000).
Commissioners are also considering a proposal to change the scope of work at the old National Guard Armory, which will now become the town's community center. They may choose to construct a maintenance shed behind the community center. Lucas quoted commissioners a price tag of $315,000 to do that work.
Town leaders held off on that decision, asking Public Works Director Chris Ray to gather more information about what the contractors would do for that kind of money.