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Zoning Tops Priority List

The Town Council plans to make quality of life issues the top priority this upcoming budget season.

In a special strategy session last week, several members of the council said continuing issues with over occupancy and how to resolve the problem were at the top of their budgetary wish list.

"I think a primary concern should be dealing with zoning violations. I think we need to put more resources there," said Councilman Harlon Reece.

Vice mayor Carol Bruce echoed that sentiment, saying, "My top priority is the whole quality of life."

Other areas council members expressed interest in included prioritizing the capital projects the Public Works Department is working on; seeking available Homeland Security grant money; reviewing the services provided by the Neighborhood Resource Center to ensure they aren't crossing over into the realm of social services; pursuing the completion of an infill ordinance; and the consideration of creating an additional pay scale to compensate for the elimination of cost-of-living raises.

Mary Tuohy, the town's director of finance, said compared to this time last fiscal year, the town has seen a 3.2 percent assessment increase, but due to the change in the tax rate, the revenue is actually down about $283,000, which was anticipated.

"The lodging tax came back quite nicely," Tuohy said. "But the sales tax was relatively flat."

In addition, the newly increased meals tax has generated $200,000 just in the months of July through September, she said.

The FY 2004-05 budget calendar was also distributed to the council. Some of the upcoming key dates within the next couple of months include:

* Jan. 9, the six-month capital improvement program status report to the Town Council;

* Jan. 20, joint work session between the Town Council and the Planning Commission for a review of the CIP status report and project priorities;

* Feb. 3, Town Council work session to discuss projected FY05 revenues;

* Feb. 10, Town Council public hearing on FY05;

* Feb. 21, Special Town Council strategy session on the budget.