Black Mountain begins budget talks for next fiscal year

Karrigan Monk
Black Mountain News
Police Chief Steve Parker presented his recommended budget for the 2024 fiscal year to the town council on April 26.

Black Mountain Town Council participated in the first budget workshop of the season April 26, when Town Manager Josh Harrold presented the council with a part of the general fund expenses for the 2024 budget.

Harrold said this year's budget will look different than those in the past because new line items have been added and others have bene broken out from other categories.

He said all town employee salaries include a 5% cost of living increase. Harrold said he wanted to focus on retaining the employees the town has by engaging in employee appreciation events, including a lunch and learn series and a picnic. He said they have started lunch and learns this year and have had "nothing but positive responses."

“I think this, we as a town and probably lots of other towns have failed to focus on,” Harrold said. “But I think with COVID and the way everything has been, it’s much more important to focus on, and I think that’s brought it to light, at least for me.”

Harrold went through several departments and their costs. The totals for the departments he discussed were as follows:

  • Governing board: $196,950.
  • Administrative: $650,575.
  • Human resources: $441,635.
  • Finance: $471,650.
  • Information technology: $137,240.

Following this last department, Harrold turned the presentation over to Chief of Police Steve Parker to go over the police department's proposed budget.

Parker recommended a "slight uptick" in several areas of the department's budget, citing a need for more safety for staff and the town.

He also spoke of "constantly investing" in the department, especially with acquiring new police vehicles.

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Council member Pam King inquired about getting electric police vehicles, but Parker said he would not recommend it yet because, based on his research, there are still problems to work out with the cars, including not staying charged for a full shift and equipment not fitting in the vehicles.

"I'm making sure that I do my due diligence," Parker said. "When we go into this, we need to make sure that it's sustainable, and that's what I'm making sure that we do."

King said she appreciates the answer and research and wants the police staff to remain safe.

Harrold suggested the meeting come to a close with plans to continue next week.

The town has until June 1 for Harrold to present his recommended budget to the council.