The Elon Town Council met on April 15 in a special work session to discuss Town Manager Rich Roedner’s proposed $10.9 million 2025 fiscal year budget.

The council began the session by discussing the proposed fees for the 2025 budget. As a result of Burlington planning to raise their water fees by 4%, the council plans to match that raise. However, taxes would not be increased to cover these heightened fees.

The council debated at length the issue of solid waste fees, which won’t be increased next year according to the proposed budget. 

The town of Elon contracts waste management out to the waste management company Green for Life Environmental; contrary to how the rest of the municipalities within Alamance County have their own garbage and recycling services. 

Mayor Emily Sharpe questioned the soundness of this decision of the town. 

“Is it more cost-effective to have our own trucks?” she said.

According to Roedner, the size of the town would require them to purchase two garbage trucks — each costing around $300,000 —  along with having their own garbage containers. Sharpe said the council should revisit this topic in the future as its current contract with GFL Environmental nears its end next year. 

“GFL rates are going to continue to go up and then we're going to be in the situation where we can't afford water and sewer lines and we can't afford this and we can't afford that,” Sharpe said. 

Another fee that would bring in revenue for the town next year is a fire inspection fee. Elon’s fire department recently hired a part-time fire inspector that will examine commercial properties. This is projected to bring the town about $15,000 in revenue next year.

Roedner then discussed the projected revenue budget for 2025. Across the board, the revenue stream is expected to dip. $10.9 million is expected for the general fund, which is a decrease from the $11.2 million of this year. Sewer and water revenue will go down from $6.5 million to $5.8 million. The grand total revenue is projected to come down from $18.2 million to about $17 million. 

“I don't think we're going to see the revenue next year that we're seeing this year,” he said. 

The council also discussed how the budget could try to address the personnel losses the town is experiencing. According to Roedner, the proposed budget is subject to change once a pay study provides recommendations on how to adjust the salaries of each position.

A key issue the council discussed was the matter of the deprived fire department at Elon. As a result of vacancies, a call for the fire department will only result in six firefighters showing up. According to Sharpe, the fire department needs to have 12 firefighters rather than six show up. Sharpe pointed out this means that one call drains the rest of the community of any coverage at a time. 

Also, the council discussed whether to make the position of downtown assistant a permanent position. Sarah Bass, the current downtown assistant, works part-time primarily on the social media side and helping the Farmer’s Market grow. However, Downtown Development Director Jill Weston said a full-time position could allow Bass to do so much more.

“I would love for her to participate in some of the downtown board projects or meetings,” Weston said. “She could serve on the Sustainability Committee. There are things that wouldn't be possible even in a 30-hour position.”

In March, Bass created 40 social media posts and Sharpe believes Bass’ contributions to social media are a reason to make her position full-time. 

“I think that there is value because our largest circulation for public information in this town is social media,” she said.“Over 2000 people follow our social media accounts and different people follow each one.” 

Weston believes there are ways to allow for increases in salary like the case of Bass. For example, she believes the hotel tax could compensate for salary needs.

The council will have public hearings on the budget on May 14 before taking a vote by June 12.