CARY, N.C. — Fewer construction sites could mean more taxes in Cary.
After a huge growth spurt in the 1980s and '90s, North Carolina's sixth biggest city put the brakes on that boom. In the process, it slowed a major moneymaker and now, Cary is paying for that decision.
Town leaders are cutting costs for
next year's budget
and bracing for a possible tax increase in two years.
In the '80s and '90s, Cary grew at a rate of 10 percent every year. Money was never a problem, it flowed in just as fast as the construction crews.
"In 1989 we were a boom town," Cary resident Les Hamashima said.
Hamashima moved to Cary in 1989 because of that prosperity. Recently, he has noticed a change.
In the last few years, the town made a concerted effort to slow that growth. Fewer construction sites also means less revenue for the town. As a result, existing Cary taxpayers could be forced to pay for that slowdown.
Mayor Ernie McAlister and the town council will meet Tuesday to work on next year's budget. There is already a proposal to cut capital spending in half. After that, a 30 percent property tax increase is possible for the 2006 budget.
"I wouldn't want to pay more. I think they are already too high," resident Anil Kumar said.
"For a lot of taxpayers, sure -- we all came here for quality of life and we understand that sometimes you have do things to maintain it," Hamashima said.
"We need to be doing the things now that will lessen the probability that we'll need to consider that in 2006," McAlister said.
The mayor was elected, in part, to renew growth a plan he hopes will build the tax base so he does not have to raise them.
Cary is cutting costs, but it is still spending plenty of money. The proposed budget slashes capital improvements in half compared to last year, but it still includes $30 million for roads, water systems and parks.